Wyoming federal judge to announce marriage equality decision by Monday

Posted on 16 Oct 2014 at 2:44pm

safe_imageMarriage equality may come to Wyoming as soon as Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl heard arguments today, Oct. 16, to Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriages. Judge Skavdahl said that he will issue his ruling by 5:00 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20.

“We are grateful that the court has moved quickly in handling our case, which affects so many families across Wyoming who are seeking equal dignity and full legal recognition. We are confident that the judge will give this important case the consideration it deserves, and we look forward to the court’s decision,” said Wyoming Equality Executive Director Jeran Artery in a statement.

The case was brought by Wyoming Equality and four same-sex couples who requested an immediate order directing state officials to comply with two decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit establishing that a state’s refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry violates the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear two appeals from the Tenth Circuit striking down marriage equality bans, meaning all states within the Tenth Circuit, including Wyoming, must comply with those decisions.

“The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that state laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. The State of Wyoming is obligated to follow the law as interpreted by the Tenth Circuit,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights attorney Chris Stoll. NCLR is one of the organizations representing the plaintiffs.

In 30 states, same-sex couples have the freedom to marry: AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IA, IL, IN, ME, MD, MA, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV and WI.

In an additional five states, including Wyoming, federal appellate rulings have set a binding precedent in favor of the freedom to marry, meaning the path is cleared for the freedom to marry there: AZ, KS, MT, SC, and WY.

In an additional 8 states, judges have issued rulings in favor of the freedom to marry, with many of these rulings now stayed as they proceed to appellate courts. In Texas and four other states, judges have struck down marriage bans — AR, FL, KY, MI, and TX — judges have struck down marriage bans. In three states — LA, OH and TN — judges have issued more limited pro-marriage rulings.

In Missouri, the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states are respected.

Courts have cases pending, but have yet to rule, in seven states: AL, GA, MO, MS, NB, ND and SD.


Meeting set for destruction of Oak Lawn property

Posted on 16 Oct 2014 at 11:53am

IMG_6133The Dallas Board of Adjustment meets on Monday, Oct. 20 to hear oral testimony on granting variances to the property on Hall Street at Turtle Creek Boulevard. The owners would like to tear down the last remaining house facing Lee Park along with all of the trees to build a 10-story tower.

Plopping a 10-story building on this single-family lot will make Oak Lawn more oakless and more lawnless and make Lee Park less inviting.

The Oak Lawn Committee is already on record as not supporting the proposed changes.

The applicant proposes changing setbacks so that the tower will cover most of the property. While nothing in the status of the building prevents its demolition, there’s no reason to allow developers to violate new standards that have been put into place for properties around the park.

George Poston, owner of the property, applied for and was denied, setback variances in 1999.

In addition to input at the meeting, comments may be sent to the administrator of the Board of Adjustment, Steve Long. All correspondence sent will be distributed at the meeting to all board members.

The Board of Adjustment meets at Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla St. on Monday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. A guard at the desk near the west entrance will direct visitors to the right elevators and meeting room.

094 application materials application to destroy property

Oak Lawn Committee letter opposing variances

1999 minutes refusing changes by board in 1999


Updated information on handling the Ebola virus

Posted on 16 Oct 2014 at 10:31am

Ebola VirusParkland Hospital and area doctors are trying to deal with the Ebola crisis by getting out the facts and minimizing the hysteria generated by broadcast media.

Parkland released a video about the procedures its staff is taking to minimize contact with the virus and a reference page with links and information about the virus and how it is spread.

Dr. David Lee from Uptown Physicians sent his patients a letter acknowledging the fear, predicting several more cases will appear in Dallas but minimizing alarm by assuring the virus will be contained.

Here’s Dr. Lee’s letter to his patients, reprinted with his permission:

Ebola Virus

David Lee on Oct. 15, 2014 1:37:37 p.m.

We understand the worries being expressed by patients concerning the Ebola virus. It is a scary virus, but one which eventually will be contained in the US. I do suspect we will see more cases in Dallas and the US, but there is no reason to be alarmed at this time. Unlike the flu virus which is easily spread, the Ebola virus is only spread by direct contact with bodily fluids. We are instituting protocols at Uptown Physicians Group to screen for any potential patients with Ebola before they come to our clinic. To be clear, if you think you may have been exposed to someone with Ebola, DO NOT COME TO OUR OFFICE. Please call our office and/or send a portal message and we can help direct your care. You will need to go directly to an emergency room which is equipped to test for Ebola and institute quarantine if necessary. Labcorp does not offer testing, so we cannot test anyone in our office for Ebola. If you have traveled to Western Africa or potentially have been exposed to someone with Ebola, again, you will need to go directly to the emergency room.

Flu season is on the way, and there is currently a viral syndrome causing upper respiratory symptoms circulating in the community, so differentiating which viral illness you have becomes very important. Thus when you call to make an anointment, you will be asked about any potential travel or Ebola exposure. Again, if there is any chance you could have been exposed to Ebola, DO NOT COME TO OUR OFFICE. We will direct you to an emergency room where testing, quarantine, and treatment can be initiated.

Below is a CDC statement which was released today:

“On the morning of Oct. 14, the second healthcare worker reported to the hospital with a low-grade fever and was isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the second healthcare worker who tested positive last night for Ebola traveled by air Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms.

Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13.

CDC is asking all 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on October 13 (the flight route was Cleveland to Dallas Fort Worth and landed at 8:16 p.m. CT) to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232 4636).”

If you were on this flight, please call the CDC ASAP for further instructions. As further pertinent information becomes available, we will send updates.


Uptown Physicians Group

And here’s Parkland’s video. The precautions are the same as those being used at Presbyterian where two nurses who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the “index patient,” were infected with the virus.

This is a training video demonstrating the precautionary methods Parkland would use with a patient presenting symptoms of Ebola. The level of virus when a patient presents with simple fever is much lower than when a hospital is treating the patient with severe symptoms and these precautions should be sufficient. Doctors I’ve spoken to recommend full hazmat suits to treat an Ebola patient in isolation.


Spirit Day: Go purple to take a stand against bullying

Posted on 16 Oct 2014 at 10:08am

Today is Oct. 16. It’s also Spirit Day, when people everywhere are encouraged to “go purple” to take a stand against bullying. There’s even anspirit day selfie app for that: The Spirit Day App, powered by Toyota Financial Services, which provides anti-bullying resources, calls to action and lets you take a “selfie” then turn it purple and add an anti-bullying slogan. That’s my purple selfie right here in this post. I am also using it today as my profile pic on Facebook. I even remembered to wear my purple shirt today.

But see, here’s the day. It takes more that a purple shirt or a purple “selfie” to stop bullying. It takes more than paying attention just one day out of the year.

According to a study published in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 6 high school students have seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 have actually attempted suicide. Overall, the suicide rate among teens climbed from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 7.8 percent in 2011, reflecting the trend gaining national attention as more teen suicides are reported as a result of bullying.

I have two sons, both relatively well-adjusted, considering that they are teenage boys. But both of them have had to deal with some sort of bullying during their lives. The older one, — now almost 18 — got bullied in junior high because he was a “smart kid,” a “nerd” who wore glasses. The younger one, now 15, was the target of a whole gang of bullies throughout his fourth-grade school year because we bought a house in a new neighborhood and he had to go to a new elementary school. “New kids” often get bullied.

We were lucky. Our kids made it through and are OK. A lot of kids aren’t so lucky.

And we have to remember that in a time when social media infiltrates so much of our lives, bullying isn’t limited to the classroom or the playground. It can follow our kids home, into our own living rooms, into their own bedrooms. We have to find whole new ways to protect our children. And that takes more than wearing purple one day a year.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all for Spirit Day, for purple selfies and purples clothes. Things like that raise awareness, and change doesn’t happen without awareness. I am just asking that we all remember not to let it stop there.

If you have children, talk to them about bullying. Make sure they know they can come to you for help if someone is bullying them. And make sure they are not bullying anyone else. If you are a young person yourself and you are being bullied, don’t suffer in silence. Find someone who can help. If you can’t find someone, contact us here at Dallas Voice; we can connect you with the help you need.

And remember that bullying isn’t limited to children. Adults are bullied too: by coworkers, spouses, by someone at the gym or on the street.

When you see someone being bullied, step in. Do something to stop the abuse. Don’t turn away. You could be the one who makes the difference, who saves someone’s life.



Idaho becomes marriage equality state number … umm… lost count

Posted on 15 Oct 2014 at 3:00pm

When Idaho’s Atty. Gen. Lawrence Wasden withdrew his request for a stay on Monday, Oct. 13 and Gov. Butch Otter decided on Tuesday to stop challenging the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on marriage equality, that cleared the way for Idaho to become a marriage equality state.

While Texas and Mississippi continue to battle for last place, Idaho became marriage equality state No. 29. Or 32. We lost count.

Marriages started today in Idaho. Facebook friend Cindy Gross from Boise sent these pics and called the day very exciting. Gross works with the Add the Words campaign trying to get sexual orientation and gender identity added to Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

“Couples getting married today didn’t want their pictures taken because they were afraid they’d lose their jobs,” she said.

But Boise was celebrating with city officials performing weddings. She said lots of straight people were out celebrating along with everyone else.



Supreme Court puts part of Texas abortion law on hold

Posted on 15 Oct 2014 at 2:58pm
sneakers davis

The sneakers Wendy Davis wore while filibustering the abortion bill

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked key provisions of a 2013 law to restrict abortions in Texas adding regulations that forced clinics to close.

Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Texas could immediately force abortion clinics to upgrade to hospital-level facilities. The Supreme Court put that provision on hold.

Another provision requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital was put on hold for clinics in McAllen and El Paso.

The Fifth Circuit is considering the overall constitutionality of the law that propelled Sen. Wendy Davis to national fame because of her filibuster against it.

“The court recognized that these deeply personal decisions should be made by a woman with the guidance of her family and her doctor,” Davis said in an email sent to Dallas Voice. “The actions by Austin politicians like Greg Abbott had closed all but eight Texas reproductive health centers and harmed the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of women throughout the state.

“While politicians like Greg Abbott support making abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest, I’m thankful that women can continue to make their own personal decisions.”

Although the decision was unsigned, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia said they would have ruled against the clinics.

“We’re seeing the terrible impact these restrictions have on thousands of Texas women who effectively no longer have access to safe and legal abortion,” said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, in a statement. “We’re relieved that the court stepped in to stop this, and we hope this dangerous law is ultimately overturned completely.”

Until the Supreme Court weighed in, the only clinics still open were in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. Several others are expected to reopen bringing the total up from eight to 13 clinics.


The beginning of the end of bigotry in Texas

Posted on 15 Oct 2014 at 1:08pm

Editor’s note: Below is an opinion piece written by Todd Whitley, a columnist who contributes regularly to the Texas Voices (formerly Viewpoints) section of the print edition of Dallas Voice. Whitley will also be a regular contributor to our new blog page, which will be called CommuniTEA and which will feature the voices of people of our LGBT community. Watch for CommuniTEA, coming to our website soon.

A vision of what could be, if we all turn out to vote next month

Todd Whitley, Contributing Columnist

I can still remember that moment as if it were just yesterday: I had watched the past two presidential elections with amazement. But never had an election seemed to affect me so personally — in my own state.

Todd WhitleyYou see, back then, although gays and lesbians were making great progress toward marriage equality in other states, in Texas the nation’s longest serving governor, the Republican-controlled state Legislature, both U.S. senators and most of the U.S. representatives were against us. We had no marriage equality and no job protection.

Heck, the establishment was against women and poor people, too.

I admit: I had felt helpless, as if my vote — my voice — didn’t matter. But still, I voted.

As the polls closed, we had only a glimmer of hope. But we had no idea that hope was about to be realized.

A small group of us were watching the election returns at JR.’s. First, the early vote numbers came in and how we rejoiced at the landslide! Then, county by county, we held our collective breath.

Most — but not all — of the rural counties went red, as expected. But the vote count was closer than anyone could have predicted.

But how would the four major urban areas turn out?

The wait was excruciating and the entire bar was on edge, waiting to see what Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas would do.

Then, like a line of dominoes, they fell as something that had once seemed impossible happened. One county after another went blue — definitively so. People in overwhelming numbers — women, lesbians, gays, Latinos, African-Americans — had shown up at the polls and elected Wendy Davis as the first Democratic governor of Texas in 20 years, and only the third woman ever!

It is said, “As Texas goes, so goes the nation.” A state that had been so deeply red — the hateful, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-immigrant shade — began to change. And so did our country.

Our new governor set about to expand Medicaid so that the taxes we were sending to Washington came back home to take care of our most vulnerable citizens, including those with HIV/AIDS. She set a course for our Legislature that increased funding to our schools instead of slashing it. She fought the uphill battle to end discrimination of Texas gays and lesbians, both in matrimony and in the workplace. And she fought for the rights of young Texas “DREAMers” to receive higher education.

Eventually she increased the minimum wage and we experienced real job growth — not the kind that comes from more minimum wage jobs.

It was not easy at all. The stubborn, still-Republican-controlled Legislature fought her tooth and nail.

But by the next election, more Democrats and moderate Republicans had won seats in both houses, and the country began to take notice.

What our governor started could be continued for decades and could catch on in other formerly red states.

You see, no longer was Texas a safe haven for those who would try to oppress women, take away their access to safe healthcare or control their bodies. No longer would the state exclude lesbian, gay and transgender Texans from the benefits and protections heterosexuals enjoyed.

No longer did our students perform at the bottom of the nation but rather they excelled because of the investment we made in their educations. No longer was Texas a state that gave preference to white, heterosexual citizens and instead became known as the Everyone has a Chance State, where each one of us — white and Latino, straight and LGBT, wealthy and poor — had equal footing, was respected, and flourished.

We still had our guns. Churches still decided whether to perform same-gender marriages. But we moved ahead so far.  And the nation followed suit.

All because we showed up at that Nov. 4, 2014 election.



This scenario is fiction, a vision of what could be.

This history has yet to be written. But it will be written, in just a few days.

And it could happen.

We are so close to seeing this vision become a reality. But only if you claim the power of your vote.

The future of Texas — and the nation — is up to you.

Todd Whitley is a local activist who can usually be found tweeting (@toddwhitley), holding a picket sign, thrift store shopping, or eating Tex-Mex. Read his blog at tdub68.wordpress.com.


Last remaining house facing Lee Park will soon be gone

Posted on 15 Oct 2014 at 11:53am

Buildings more than 15 years old remain the scourge of the neighborhood and this one will soon be gone.

The last house facing Lee Park will soon be gone.

What about all those oak trees covering the property? Don’t worry, they’ll be gone, too. Who needs stinkin’ trees messing up a park?

A zoning change will allow a 10-story building to replace the house. That’s because there isn’t enough traffic around Lee Park and there are too many old trees.

The house, built in 1940, is valued at $714,000 and is owned by Poston Real Estate and Poston Capital Corp.

Hopefully, the city will get the message that old stuff and trees just aren’t compatible with modern city living, and they’ll sell off Lee Park to put in some beautiful high-rise condos and more luxury offices.

Outraged? Contact the Board of Adjustment at 214-670-4206 regarding case number BDA 134-094, the request to rezone the front and side yard of 3409 Hall St. Even if the house at 3407 Hall St. has already been rezoned, developers can’t put up a 10-story building without the rest of the property.

Preservation Dallas holds a public forum at the Erik Jonnson Central Library, 1515 Young St. on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. Free including free parking in the underground lot accessed on Wood Street.


Six reasons Shmini Atzeret is my favoritest holiday

Posted on 15 Oct 2014 at 9:00am

We have no idea if this is an appropriate Shmini Atzeret greeting or not. For all we know about the holiday, the right greeting may be have a stinkin day.

Happy Shmini Atzeret, my absolute favoritest Jewish holiday.

Shmini Atzeret begins tonight and what a wonderful celebration. Or sad day. Or day of … well, we don’t have any idea what the hell Shmini Atzeret celebrates. We just know it’s a holiday that shares the same day as another holiday, but stands as a holiday on its own. You gotta love it.

I’ve talked about why I hate Channukah here and here and here. But I’ve never talked about Shmini Atzeret, the greatest Jewish holiday of them all.

We really, really don’t know what Shmini Atzeret celebrates. Shmini means eighth in Hebrew. Atzeret is gathering or assembly. So it’s celebrated as the eighth day of assembly or the holiday of Sukkot, the harvest festival or Jewish Thanksgiving, which began this year on Oct. 8 and ends this evening as Simchat Torah begins. Simchat Torah is when Jews finish reading the last verses of the Torah for the year and begin over again with the first lines of Genesis.

Here are my reasons I love Shmini Atzeret:

Reason 1:  Shmini, as I like to call it for short, doesn’t get its own day. It shares a holiday. That’s kind of like last year when we celebrated Thankgivikuh, when Hannukah fell on Thanksgiving. So Shmini is an underdog holiday that doesn’t get its own day. Poor Shmini. I love you though.

Reason 2: Leviticus and Numbers command that Shmini is its own separate holiday and should be celebrated. What neither book tells us is what we’re celebrating. That’s kind of like Christmas where everyone buys presents and if you say Happy Holidays, you’re fighting a war on poor Christmas, because you have no idea why you’re bankrupting yourself with shopping. You just do it, because otherwise you’re discriminating against Christians. So I love a holiday that celebrates nothing other than because I said so.

Reason 3: There’s no special food for Shmini. Do you know how greasy my kitchen gets every Hanukah making latkas — potato pancakes — the official food of the Chanukkuh season? You know what a pain in the ass it is to change all the dishes for Passover and then use only products made by Manischewitz, a division of Bain Capital? And blintzes for Shavuot? Yuk. I can’t stand blintzes. And the Biblical mandate to go out for Chinese food on Christmas? Um, OK, well, I like that one.

But Shmini is the no fuss, no muss holiday. Eat whatever the hell you want. This holiday doesn’t even rate its own food. I think I’ll go out for Italian. Maybe a good Shmini lasagne.

Reason 4: On Sukkot, there are prayers everyday. On the eighth day, you don’t have to say them, not all of them anyway. What a fucking great holiday. On Yom Kippur, the damn prayers go on all day. I’m talking start early morning and don’t stop until sunset. Shmini is really the holiday all us lazy Jews really have to love, because it requires even less than Chanuka.

Reason 5: There’s no dreadful Shmini Atzeret music to sing. For some reason, Jews are really good at writing Christmas carols but really bad at writing music for Jewish holidays. “White Christmas.” “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Jews wrote ‘em. For the Jewish holidays, what have we got? That damn dreidl song for Chanukah and for Passover, “Dayenu,” a song that’s as repetitive and annoying as “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

Reason 6: Stupid name. OK, let’s face it. The name sounds more like Shmini Mouse than a serious Jewish holiday. S-H-M. MMMM it’s Shmini Atzeret. I-N-I. I really love Shmini. M-O-U-S-E.


Abbott wants to reduce out-of-wedlock births so he’s against same-sex marriage

Posted on 14 Oct 2014 at 2:23pm

Texas AG Greg AbbottAtty. Gen. Greg Abbott filed a new brief in the Texas marriage case that the Fifth Circuit decided to fast-track. His main argument is that the state doesn’t have to prove same-sex marriage will hurt opposite-sex marriage, just that opposite-sex marriage is better.

“Second, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society.”

So how’s that channeling going for you Greg?

Here are some stats from the Centers for Disease Control website for teen births, ages 15 to 19 in 2010, the latest year for which I found a state-by-state comparison.

The overall U.S. birth rate is 34.3 per 1,000 teens ages 15–19 in 2010, the latest year available on the Centers for Disease Control website.

But that number is not equally distributed across the country.

In Massachusetts, the rate is 17.1 per thousand and in Texas it’s 52.2 per thousand. That’s more than three times the teen pregnancy rate in traditional values Texas than in marriage-equality Massachusetts.

Massachusetts, the first marriage-equality state, legalized same-sex marriage in 2003.

In his fight against marriage equality, Abbott said the State is interested in “reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births.” That hasn’t happened.

Let’s compare a few other states to Texas. In civil union state No. 1 that became marriage equality state No. 2, the Vermont teen birth rate is 17.9 per thousand.

Another early marriage equality adopter was Iowa. That’s state’s teen birth rate is 28.6 per thousand, still below the national average.

Comparing Texas to other large states, New York has a rate of 22.6 per thousand and California has a rate of 31.5 per thousand. Both now have marriage equality but didn’t in 2010, the year of these stats.

Texas isn’t in last place, however. Once again, Texans can proudly say “Thank God for Mississippi,” with its 55.0 rate. Arkansas and New Mexico teens are both breeding at faster rates than Texas teens as well.

These are just teen birth rates and marriage equality may have absolutely nothing to do with it. So either Abbott’s argument collapses because marriage equality is irrelevant to unwed teen birth rates or marriage equality actually encourages teens not to get pregnant.