After months of homophobic attacks, Oklahoma gay man files federal lawsuit

Posted on 07 Aug 2017 at 9:57am

OKLAHOMA CITY— Randy Gamel-Medler, a gay man, filed a federal equal protection lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against nine defendants from Blaine County, Oklahoma, including Hitchcock Mayor Rick Edsall, Blaine County Sheriff Tony Almaguer and Blaine County Undersheriff David Robertson.

The complaint details months of police and government inaction in response to racist and homophobic threats and harassment including state law claims for assault, battery, destruction of real and personal property, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to information sent to Dallas Voice by Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson.

“When our family moved to the town of Hitchcock in rural Oklahoma we thought we were buying our last house,” said plaintiff Randy Gamel-Medler. “We wanted to know our neighbors by their first names and grow old together, but we were soon met with hatred, suspicion, and discrimination. We were terrorized, murder threats were made against our seven year-old African-American son. Town officials conspired to run us out of office, all while local law enforcement ignored our pleas for help. We are now left with the last 27 years of our life literally erased. What do we do now?”

Hitchcock is about 80 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

Gamel-Medler, a white gay man with a 7 year-old African-American son, was first threatened in September 2016 at a town council meeting one month after moving to Hitchcock. Upon learning that Gamel-Medler had an African-American son, defendant Meradith Norris, a town of Hitchcock Trustee, asked, “What’s going to happen when your house burns down and we don’t send out the fire trucks?”

Gamel-Medler filed a police report, but no criminal action was taken.

“We must not forget that after years of progress, crimes of bias still exist,” Stevenson said. “The allegations in Hitchcock are horrific, and show the intersection of hate aimed at the both the African-American and LGBTQ Communities. Freedom Oklahoma stands with all victims of bias, and will work vigilantly to ensure the state of Oklahoma passes Bias-Crime Protections for all Oklahomans.”

In early May 2017, Gamel-Medler was performing his duties as town clerk by clearing an obstruction from the road when he was assaulted by defendant Jonita Pauls Jacks, who tried to enter Gamel-Medler’s truck and then after realizing it was locked began shaking the truck, called him a “f***ing queer,” and said, “I’m going to grab your little boy, rip his n***er head off, and sh** down his throat.”

When Gamel-Medler attempted to file a police report after this incident, he was informed that the mayor had already described this incident to the police. The Deputy Sheriff refused to take a report, said that this is just how these folks are, and characterized the incident as free speech.

“This abhorrent incident underscores the urgent need for our communities and public officials to commit to combatting the epidemic of hate-based violence that continues to plague too many in the LGBTQ community,” said Robin Maril, Human Rights Campaign’s Associate Legal Director. “No family should have to fear for their safety because of who they are or whom they love. LGBTQ people in Oklahoma and around the nation need action. We must demand training to ensure that law enforcement officials have the tools they need to partner with LGBTQ community-members and to swiftly respond to hate crimes with sensitivity. Adoption of mandatory reporting requirements for hate-crime statistics coupled with the passage of statewide LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes and non-discrimination protections are also essential to ending this violence. Our hearts go out to the Medler family during this incredibly difficult time.”

Over the next several weeks, the complaint states that one or more of the defendants threw gravel several times at Gamel-Medler’s home, posted a sign outside of the post office stating that “the town clerk is a “f***ing queer,” and attempted to run a friend of Gamel-Medler’s off of the road.

“No family should live in fear or have to endure harassment and threats based on racism and homophobia,” said Shannon Price Minter, legal director for National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We must hold those government officials, members of law enforcement, and others accountable.”

The complaint says that on May 28, Gamel-Medler heard the sound of glass breaking in his garage and called the sheriff’s office to report a burglary. He then saw a fire in his garage and called the fire department. Despite the fire department being located one block away from Gamel-Medler’s home, the fire department failed to arrive until the house had burned to the ground. While the house was burning, a number of the named defendants watched it burn, including Mayor Edsall, who sat and watched with his family in lawn chairs.

POST A COMMENT »

Shkreli found guilty of fraud

Posted on 04 Aug 2017 at 2:04pm

Martin Shkreli

Martin Shkreli has been found guilty on three counts of fraud and faces years in prison when he’s sentenced.

Shkreli became infamous in 2015 when he obtained the license to manufacture the drug Daraprim, used in people with AIDS to fight a parasite, then raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750. The charges are unrelated to his raising the price of Daraprim while he was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

He was found guilty on three of eight counts, including one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud.

According to CNBC, “Prosecutors said a mountain of testimony and evidence at trial showed that Shkreli duped multiple investors into putting millions of dollars into two hedge funds he ran, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, by falsely claiming to have an excellent record of running such funds, and by falsely stating his investment strategy had a low level of risk.”

 

POST A COMMENT »

Trevor Project reports spike in calls from trans youth

Posted on 04 Aug 2017 at 6:45am

Lou Weaver

The Trevor Project — the nation’s largest LGBTQ youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization — late on Wednesday, Aug. 2, issued a statement noting a growing number of calls, text messages and online chats coming into the agency from transgender youth correspondingly most notably with President Trump’s tweet regarding transgender military service members, and news coverage of proposed “bathroom bills” in the Texas legislature.

According to the Trevor Project, of the approximately 178 contacts per day (on average), 7.3 percent typically self-identify as transgender. Within 24 hours of Trump’s tweet regarding transgender military service members, contacts from transgender individuals spiked to 17.5 percent of all contacts. And, the week after the Texas Legislature introduced the anti-trans “bathroom bill,” contacts from transgender young people doubled to 14.7 percent.

“As an adult living my life as a transgender man, I know first hand what it feels like to feel scared, alone, and vulnerable,” said Lou Weaver, transgender programs coordinator for Equality Texas. “The anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and all of the anti-transgender policies have directly resulted in members of our community being assaulted and our parents being afraid for their children. We hope the news from the Trevor Project will inform lawmakers and result in them rejecting all discriminatory bathroom bill legislation targeting our transgender neighbors, families and friends.”

Chuck Smith, Equality Texas CEO, added, “It’s summertime. Families with children should be having fun and reconnecting during their summer break. Instead, families with trans youth are traveling for hours to testify against bathroom bills, because the lieutenant governor has decided to pick on an already bullied group of kids.

“The news from the Trevor Project regarding the spike in communications is heartbreaking,” he continued. “Attacking transgender kids with discriminatory legislation puts them in crisis. Enough is enough! The Texas Legislature needs to stop the bathroom bills.”

Weaver and Smith both stressed Equality Texas is fighting not about bathrooms, but against “policies that will have lifelong consequences for our families and communities. Equality Texas will continue to hold janti-LGBTQ legislators accountable.”

 

POST A COMMENT »

San Antonio getting rainbow crosswalk before Dallas

Posted on 03 Aug 2017 at 1:46pm

First Houston. Then San Antonio.

San Antonio will get a rainbow crosswalk on an intersection near downtown that’s part of what’s known as “The Strip.”

For Pride, a rainbow crosswalk was chalked on the intersection. Now that will be made permanent and monitored for six months to make sure it doesn’t cause any traffic problems.

The crosswalk will be mostly privately funded, according to San Antonio’s Fox 29.

POST A COMMENT »

Calls for boycott against Breakfast Club mount after trans murder

Posted on 03 Aug 2017 at 10:40am

TeeTeeDaingerfield

As the calls for a boycott of The Breakfast Club morning radio program continue to mount, in the wake of Lil Duval’s anti-transgender hate speech during his appearance on the program last week, media in Georgia — and now across the country — are reporting news of the 16th transgender person murdered so far this year.

According to The Georgia Voice, Atlanta resident TeeTee Dangerfield, 32, was shot to death outside of her vehicle at the South Hampton Estates apartment complex on Monday, July 31 at about 4:30 a.m.

Police said there are no suspects yet in Daingerfield’s murder and that it is “unclear” whether her murder had anything to do with her gender identity. But the Voice notes that her death came “just two days after a Midtown rally and march in support of the transgender community following President Trump’s July 26 tweets effectively barring trans service members from serving in the U.S. military.”

According to The National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 Transgender Survey Report, “46 percent of respondents were verbally harassed and 9 percent were physically attacked because of being transgender.” The survey also found that 10 percent of respondents reported being sexually assaulted during the prior year, and 47 percent said they were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.”

The calls to boycott The Breakfast Club — an iHeart radio-produced program that features cohosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne tha God and that bills itself as “the world’s most dangerous morning show” — began after comedian Lil Duval said that if he ever found out a woman he had sex with was transgender, he would kill her.

The controversy actually started earlier in the week with journalist and best-selling author Janet Mock — who also happens to be transgender — went on the show to promote her new book, Surpassing Certainty, and used the opportunity to advocate for transgender issues.

A few days later, Duval was the morning show’s guest, and when asked about Trump’s then-recent tweet saying transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the military, he responded with, ““Shout out to all the trannies out there.”

Then when he was asked how he would respond if he found out that woman he was dating was transgender, he answered, “This might sound messed up, but I don’t care, she dying.” The show’s hosts then went on to ask about Mock, using her book as a prop, and Duval declared, “Nope. That nigga doing his thing….ain’t finna get me.”

Houston trans activist Monica Roberts, author of TransGriot blog, did not hesitate in linking hate speech like Duval’s — and the hesitancy of others to call out the hatred — to the murders of transgender women: “One of the things I’m really getting sick of along with the Black trans community and the parents of Black trans kids is the ongoing pattern in the Black community of our Black oriented media outlets, be they radio, television or on social media, spouting hate speech aimed at the transgender community. It is anti-trans hate speech like this that results in Black trans women getting beat up or murdered.”

POST A COMMENT »

Team Friendly DFW and Resource Center present Stigma-Free Community Workshop

Posted on 01 Aug 2017 at 3:12pm

Team Friendly DFW and Resource Center team up to present Stigma-Free Community Workshop on Aug. 12, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road.

The workshops are designed discuss HIV in a safe environment.

Topics include Aging with HIV. Resource Center’s Gary Benecke facilitates. Parkland’s Bettie Crocker presents PrEP Talk. Specific communities are addressed by Tres Brown III (Fuse) with Teen Talk, Dr. Elizabeth Race facilitates Women & HIV and Rose Spire presents Gender Identity.

Lunch is provided. Nelson Tebedo Clinic offers free HIV testing and health screenings.

The event is free but tickets are available here.

POST A COMMENT »

56 retired admirals and generals oppose Trumps trans military ban

Posted on 01 Aug 2017 at 3:09pm

The following letter was sent to Palm Center. They believe that if the presidential tweets proposing a transgender military plan were put into effect, it was degrade readiness of the armed forces.

The Commander in Chief has tweeted a total ban of honorably serving transgender troops. This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy. As a result, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving—and who want to serve—must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity.

President Trump seeks to ban transgender service members because of the financial cost and disruption associated with transgender military service. We respectfully disagree, and consider these claims to be without merit. The RAND Corporation, as well as research in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the financial cost of providing health care to transgender troops would be, at most, $8.4 million per year. This amounts to one one-hundredth of one percent of the military’s annual health care budget. As for ostensible disruptions, transgender troops have been serving honorably and openly for the past year, and have been widely praised by commanders. Eighteen foreign nations, including the UK and Israel, allow transgender troops to serve, and none has reported any detriment to readiness.

Recently, two former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have taken courageous stands in support of our transgender service members. General Martin Dempsey said of our transgender troops that, ‘The service of men and women who volunteer and who meet our standards of service is a blessing, not a burden.’

And Admiral Mike Mullen stated that, ‘I led our armed forces under the flawed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and saw firsthand the harm to readiness and morale when we fail to treat all service members according to the same standards. Thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require. The military conducted a thorough research process on this issue and concluded that inclusive policy for transgender troops promotes readiness.’ Admiral Mullen urged civilian leaders ‘to respect the military’s judgment and not to breach the faith of service members who defend our freedoms.’ We could not agree more.”

General John R. Allen, USMC (Retired)

General Robert W. Sennewald, USA (Retired)

Vice Admiral Donald Arthur, USN (Retired)

Lieutenant General Robert Gard, USA (Retired)

Lieutenant General Walter Gaskin, USMC (Retired)

Vice Admiral Kevin P. Green, USN (Retired)

Lieutenant General Arlen D. Jameson, USAF (Retired)

Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, USA (Retired)

Lieutenant General Willie Williams, USMC (Retired)

Major General Juan G. Ayala, USMC (Retired)

Major General Donna Barbisch, USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral Chris Cole, USN (Retired)

Major General Vance Coleman, USA (Retired)

Major General J. Gary Cooper, USMC (Retired)

Major General Paul Eaton, USA (Retired)

Major General Mari K. Eder, USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral F. Stephen Glass, USN (Retired)

Major General Richard S. Haddad, USAF (Retired)

Major General Irv Halter, USAF (Retired)

Rear Admiral Jan Hamby, USN (Retired)

Major General Marcelite J. Harris, USAF (Retired)

Rear Admiral John Hutson, JAGC, USN (Retired)

Major General James R. Klugh, Sr., USA (Retired)

Major General Dennis Laich, USA (Retired)

Major General Randy Manner, USA (Retired)

Major General Dee Ann McWilliams, USA (Retired) 

Major General John Phillips, USAF (Retired)

Major General Dana J.H. Pittard, USA (Retired)

Major General Gale Pollock, CRNA, FACHE, FAAN, USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral Harold Robinson, USN (Retired)

Major General Patricia Rose, USAF (Retired)

Rear Admiral Alan Steinman, USPHS/USCG (Retired)

Major General Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)

Major General Peggy Wilmoth, PhD, MSS, RN, FAAN, USA (Retired)

Major General Maggie Woodward, USAF (Retired)

Rear Admiral Dick Young, USN (Retired)

Brigadier General Clara Adams-Ender, USA (Retired)

Brigadier General Ricardo Aponte, USAF (Retired)

Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett, USN (Retired)

Brigadier General David Brahms, USMC (Retired)

Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Retired)

Brigadier General Julia Cleckley, USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral Jay DeLoach, USN (Retired)

Brigadier General John Douglass, USAF (Retired)

Brigadier General Evelyn “Pat” Foote, USA (Retired)

Brigadier General Judy M. Griego, NMANG (Retired) 

Brigadier General David R. Irvine, USA (Retired)

Brigadier General John H. Johns, USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral Gene Kendall, USN (Retired)

Brigadier General Thomas Kolditz, PhD, USA (Retired)

Brigadier General Carlos E. Martinez, USAF (Retired)

Brigadier General Ronald Rokosz, USA (Retired)

Brigadier General John M. Schuster, USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral Michael E. Smith, USN (Retired)

Brigadier Paul Gregory Smith, USA (Retired)

Brigadier General Marianne Watson, USA (Retired)

POST A COMMENT »

Man arrested after setting LGBT youth center on fire

Posted on 01 Aug 2017 at 10:11am

Darren William Beach Jr. (Courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department)

A 26-year-old man was arrested after he was identified from a video as the man pouring gasoline inside an LGBT youth center in Phoenix before the room caught fire.

Darren William Beach Jr. participated in programs at the center, but aged out when he turned 25.

The center is One.n.ten that serves youth 14-24.

A fire at the center on July 12 was ruled arson and Beach was identified from a video taken inside the building.

According to the Arizona Republic, The building was damaged, and one.n.ten lost equipment, supplies and electronics.

According to its website, the organization hopes Beach will get the help he needs and the services offered by the agency are being provided at a temporary location. Donations to the center can be made through its website.

The director of the center said she hoped Beach would get the help he needed.

POST A COMMENT »

FAMILY LIFE: Back to school… but which one?

Posted on 31 Jul 2017 at 11:07am

So, it’s time to consider going to college. While you or your queer kids may have picked one already, if not, you might want to know where a gay student would thrive.

College Choice, an online publication that ranks colleges by various criteria, has come out with a list of the 50 best universities and colleges to attend for LGBTQ youth. Basing its decisions on information provided on the colleges’ websites, the Campus Pride Index and other data, it created an alphabetical listing of the 50 best. Of those on the list, only two are located in Texas: UT Austin and the University of Houston. Not surprisingly, many California colleges figure prominently.

Here is the complete list:

Bridgewater State University; Case Western Reserve University; Cornell University; Duke University; Harvey Mudd College; Indiana University; Johns Hopkins University; Kansas State University; Lehigh University; Macalester College; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; New York University; Northern Kentucky University; Northwestern University; Oberlin College; Ohio State University; Pennsylvania State University; Princeton University; Rutgers, State University of New Jersey; San Diego State University; Southern Illinois University; Southern Oregon University; Stony Brook University; Tufts University; UCLA; UMass Amherst; University of Arizona; University of California Davis; University of California San Diego; University of California Santa Barbara; University of Central Florida; University of Colorado at Boulder; University of Connecticut; University of Houston; University of Iowa; University of Maine; University of Maryland College Park; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota Morris; University of Minnesota Twin Cities; University of Oregon; University of Pennsylvania; University of Southern California; University of Texas Austin; University of Washington; University of Wisconsin Eau Claire; University of Wisconsin Green Bay; Washington State University; Washington University St. Louis; Williams College.

POST A COMMENT »

The Rev. Troy Perry visits Cathedral of Hope

Posted on 31 Jul 2017 at 10:41am

The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of Metropolitan Community Church, visited Cathedral of Hope this weekend for the first time in more than a decade.

“This is an important family reunion,” said the Rev. Neil Cazarez-Thomas.

Cathedral of Hope, which is now affiliated with United Church of Christ, was founded 47 years ago as an MCC church.

On Saturday, July 26, cathedral held a reception in Perry’s honor at its Interfaith Peace Chapel. Perry spoke at the 11 a.m. service on Sunday. The Rev. Colleen Darraugh said MCC of Greater Dallas joined CoH for Sunday services, the first time the two congregations held this sort of joint event.

Cazarez-Thomas came out at the MCC church in Bournemouth, England. He said Perry “saved my life as I became an MCC member at age 16.” When Perry retired from the pulpit at Founders MCC in Los Angeles, Cazarez-Thomas became that church’s leader. He left two years ago to become senior pastor at Cathedral of Hope.

The weekend was more than a family reunion, but also a reconciliation after CoH left MCC on unfriendly terms.

“We honor and value our history as an MCC church,” Cazarez-Thomas said.

 

POST A COMMENT »