Just back from the Allred Unit

Posted on 14 Nov 2014 at 4:11pm

Christopher Hines filming Anthony Garcia at Allred Unit

Just got home from the Allred Unit just outside of Wichita Falls. Lots more about the Logo documentary that Christopher Hines is making later.

Fascinating day.

Met a 24-year-old prisoner named Anthony Garcia, a gay man from Fort Worth, who has been in prison 5 1/2 years and has 2 1/2 to go. The charge was assault, but we know we don’t have the whole story. He claims he was attacked, but was arrested and prosecuted. Need to look up the case and get more information.

We could only speak to Anthony by phone through glass because of his level of incarceration. When he first came in, he was obviously nervous but after a few minutes, he relaxed and told his story.

A friend of Anthony’s recently committed suicide in prison. Very touching story. He lost his closest friend.

According to one guard who accompanied us, there have been a couple of suicides recently, after not having any in several years. Amazing they’re able to avoid suicide, but the guard explained that any hint of that sort of depression and the inmate gets help.

Lots more to tell, but need to research his case before writing about it.


Scared straight … I mean gay

Posted on 14 Nov 2014 at 5:48am

imagesI’m on my way to prison this morning.

I’m headed for the Allred Unit outside of Wichita Falls.


A producer from California is making a documentary about gays in prison for Logo and I’m riding along. And yes, I’m a little nervous.

The last job my father had before he retired was working at Sing Sing, the notorious maximum security prison north of New York City. He taught prisoners machine shop skills during their last year behind bars before their release. I asked him once if it bothered him working with these guys after he found out what they did. He said that although he’d spend several hours with each one every day, he never asked them what they had done. That way, he said, he could just deal with them as people.

This morning, after a background check and sending off a list of what I’d be bringing with me, I’m on my way to Allred and we’re just going to talk to someone. Just like any interview I’ve ever done. But we’ll talk about what he did. I’ll let you know how that worked out later.


Cedar Springs improvements to be presented at Rose Room meeting

Posted on 13 Nov 2014 at 3:16pm

cropped-cs_fundamentals1In the last bond election, money was set aside for improvements in each council district. Former council members Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano set aside part of their funds for improvements on Cedar Springs Road. (The district line runs down the middle of the street).

The Cedar Springs Merchants Association, the Dallas Tavern Guild and others have made suggestions. A design team has taken those ideas and will present them at a meeting open to the public in The Rose Room at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18. No, they’re not proposing the picture above. That’s from the design team’s announcement page.

Here’s their notice:

Cedar Springs Complete Streets Public Meeting #2
04 Tuesday Nov 2014

Posted by Mark Dzuibek-Brown AICP, PTP in Cedar Springs Complete Streets Project

Please join us Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at The Rose Room (Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Rd.) at 6pm-8pm for our 2nd Cedar Springs Complete Streets workshop.

We’ll be presenting two design alternatives based on the feedback we received from the first public meeting. Our goal for this workshop is to select a preferred design concept which will continue through engineering and into construction in 2016.

We look forward to seeing you there.


Dorothy can get married in equality state No. 33: Kansas

Posted on 13 Nov 2014 at 9:46am

KansasThe U.S. Supreme Court lifted its stay on marriage in Kansas on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Kansas becomes marriage equality state No. 33. Its laws fall in line with the rest of the 10th circuit, which previously ruled Oklahoma and Utah anti-marriage-equality laws violated due process and equal protection. When the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from those two states, the ruling applied to the rest of the circuit, which also includes New Mexico, Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado.

New Mexico became a marriage equality state last year. The rest of the 10th circuit states have become marriage equality states since the October Supreme Court decision not to hear the Utah and Oklahoma cases.


Drag queens wanted for open casting call in Austin

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 at 3:23pm
Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 3.19.58 PM

Mike White

Calling all drag queens: Are you looking to become a star on the small screen? Then you just might want to head to Austin on Saturday.

Vicky Boone Casting is conducting a regional search for drag queens to play lead roles in an upcoming HBO pilot, called Mama Dallas and created by writer/filmmaker Mike White of Enlightened, Chuck & Buck and School of Rock fame.

There will be an open casting call Saturday, Nov. 15, from 2-6 p.m. at Bout Time II, 6607 I-35 in Austin, to cast the lead part of “Liberty Bell.”

According to the press release from Vicky Boone Casting, Liberty Bell “appears to be an attractive, sexy woman with a flirty side — but she’s not, really. Born Albert De Lorio, Liberty is a drag queen with an ebullient, chatty, upbeat personality, but she leads an unpleasantly seedy life … a life that she plans to turn around with a little re-invention and identity theft.”

The filmmaker is looking for a 30-something male of open ethnicity to play the role.

You don’t need an appointment for the open casting call, and people will be seen on a first-come, first-seen basis. Anyone who is cast will be compensated “on the scale of professional actors.”

Those interested in auditioning may email a picture in advance to vbcfeatures@gmail.com with the subject title “Mamma Dallas” and include their name, resume, best contact info and current city of residence.

Interested parties are also encouraged to create free account on actorsaccess.com.

Shooting for Mamma Dallas begins March 2015.

(And given recent news about a scammer working Oak Lawn and posing as a “modeling agent,” let me include this info to establish Vicuy Boone Casting’s bona fides: The agent has done regional casting for such films as The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints starring Rooney Mara, Parkland starring Paul Giamatti, Men, Women, and Children starring Adam Sandler and Richard Linklater’s upcoming That’s What I’m Talking About.)


Oklahoma Supreme Court allows same-sex parents to seek custody

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 at 3:04pm

oklahoma-marriageThe Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled today (Wednesday, Nov. 12) that non-biological parents in a same-sex relationship can seek custody of children they raised based on an agreement to parent together.

The decision found there is no public policy in Oklahoma against a child having same-sex parents, and if a biological parent jointly conceives children with a non-biological parent and then raises those children together, she cannot deny the other parent the ability to seek custody or visitation based on their agreement.

“We applaud the Oklahoma Supreme Court for recognizing that when two parents raise a child together, both parents should be allowed to seek custody, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or biological ties,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “This decision recognizes that every child’s best interests must be protected when their parents break up, no matter what their family looks like.”

Julie Eldredge and Karen Taylor were in a long-term relationship and entered a civil union in New Zealand. They jointly decided to have two children through donor insemination, and they raised the children together for seven years until Karen, the biological mother, unilaterally cut off contact between Julie and the children. Julie sought shared custody of the children, but the trial court denied her petition for lack of standing.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Eldredge is able to seek custody based on the parties’ agreement to parent the children, so long as custody is in the best interests of the children. The court also noted that same-sex parents in Oklahoma may obtain second-parent adoptions, where the non-biological parent may adopt without terminating the biological parent’s rights, but that same-sex parents who do not adopt may still seek custody based on an agreement.

“The public policy of this state mandates that the district court consider the best interests of the children before they lose one of the only two parents they have ever known,” the court wrote in its ruling.

“The real winners here are the children, whose rights to have loving parents are protected,” said Melody Huckaby Rowlett, attorney for Eldredge.


South Carolina to appeal marriage ruling citing his state’s differences

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 at 1:54pm

SC flagSouth Carolina Atty. Gen. Alan Wilson said he would appeal today’s federal court ruling declaring the state’s marriage laws unconstitutional.

He cited the difference between his state’s 4th Circuit ruling in favor of marriage equality, and the 6th Circuit’s ruling, last week, allowing discrimination to stand.

As part of his appeal, Wilson said his state’s marriage laws are not the same as the marriage laws in other 4th Circuit states. He’s right about that.

South Carolina allows first cousins to marry, as long as they’re the opposite sex. West Virginia, also in the 4th Circuit does not.

In South Carolina, the age of consent for marriage is 16. Couples may marry younger with parental consent or if the female child is pregnant. In North Carolina and Virginia, you have to be 18. Raped and otherwise pregnant children may marry in those states as well.

In South Carolina, you don’t even have to get married to be considered married, as long as you’re straight. The state recognizes common-law marriage. West Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia don’t.

So Wilson is correct. The marriage laws are different in South Carolina: They allow many more categories of marriage, except one — same-sex marriage. Good luck with that argument holding up in court, Mr. Wilson.


Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth top Texas cities in HRC Municipal Equality Index

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 at 10:00am

MEI-2014-map-650x375The Human Rights Campaign released its third annual Municipal Equality Index today (Wednesday, Nov. 12) assessing LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation, including 22 in Texas, according to a press release from HRC.

The MEI, the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, assesses cities on a one to 100 scale.

The average score for the 22 Texas cities is 28 out of 100 points, far below the national average of 59. Only Austin achieved a perfect 100 score. Dallas came in second with 91 points and Fort Worth third with 83 points.

San Antonio, El Paso and Houston earned scores of 72, 52 and 54 respectively, the only other cities to score more than 50 points.

Other surveyed Texas cities included Amarillo: 14,  Brownsville: 20, Corpus Christi: 16, Killeen: 10, Laredo: 2, Lubbock: 0, McAllen: 0, Pasadena: 10, Waco: 24.

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: Non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees, inclusiveness of city services, fair law enforcement practices and leadership on matters of equality.

Check out the full list here and this week’s edition of the Voice for comments from local leaders.


South Carolina judge rules marriage ban unconstitutional

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 at 9:47am

PrintA U.S. District judge in South Carolina has ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional based on a ruling by the 4th Circuit in Virginia.

South Carolina refused to begin issuing marriage licenses in October when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the Virginia case — a decision that was binding throughout the circuit. West Virginia and North Carolina became marriage equality states. South Carolina has resisted.

After the 6th Circuit ruled last week that it is legal to discriminate against gay couples in marriage laws, South Carolina pointed to that decision to continue refusing to issue marriage licenses. But U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel ruled South Carolina must follow the 4th Circuit ruling.

No word on if the state will comply or if it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And as we write this, a U.S. district court in Mississippi is hearing arguments in a case challenging the marriage ban there.



Sotomayor puts Kansas marriage on hold

Posted on 11 Nov 2014 at 9:53am

PrintU.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor extended a stay on marriage equality in Kansas. She gave supporters of equality until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11 to file briefs.

On Friday, the Supreme Court may take up the issue and decide to hear the case or dismiss it, as it has with cases from Oklahoma and Utah, also in the 10th Circuit.

Currently, 32 states and D.C. allow same-sex marriage. Kansas is among three states whose appeals courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality and are not in compliance with their circuits.

Five states are awaiting a hearing or ruling from their circuits and four states in the 6th Circuit have a ruling favoring discrimination and are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. The remaining six states have had no case heard in court yet. Of those, a Mississippi case is due to be heard Nov. 12.