FBI now involved in Tye murder investigation

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 8:40pm

The FBI is now involved in investigating the murder of Marcal Camero Tye, a 25-year-old trans woman found dead near a rural highway outside Forrest Hill, Ark., early Tuesday, March 8, according to reports posted today on AOL News.

Marcal Camero Tye

Special Agent Steve Frazier with the FBI Office in Little Rock told AOL News that the FBI is trying to determine if Tye’s civil rights were violated and would be working to determine if the murder was a hate crime.

Frazier said, “”Part of the civil rights statutes does include hate crimes, and we will be looking at that as a possibility, but right now it is open as a federal civil rights investigation.”

Investigators have said that Tye was shot in the head and her body then dragged down the road either behind or underneath a vehicle. Evidence that the body had been dragged caused activists with the Little Rock LGBT rights group Center for Artistic Revolution to believe the murder was an anti-trans hate crime.

However, Bobby May, sheriff of St. Francis County where Tye was killed, said the dragging appears not to have been intentional.

“Apparently after shooting the individual — we feel like the victim was shot in front of the vehicle — the suspect, whoever it may be, thought they might straddle the body, and in the process of taking off, the body got hung up under the vehicle,” May said. He also said there was evidence the driver had stopped and backed up in an attempt to disloge Tye’s body.

However, Frazier said, if the murder is determined to have been a hate crime, the fact that Arkansas has no state hate crimes law will not be a deterrent.

“Federal law is totally independent of any state law. The state has jurisdiction for homicide investigations, which are a state offense, but we have jurisdiction henever a killing may involve a person’s civil rights. We have federal jurisdiction totally unrelated to the state charge,” Frazier said.

May said investigators do not yet have a suspect in the case. However they did make plaster casts of tire tracks at the site and have found two .32-caliber shell casings at the scene. Tye was shot by a 32.caliber weapon.

Forrest City is located in the northeast portion of Arkansas, about halfway between Little Rock and Memphis, Tenn., on Interstate 40. Memphis Flyer, an alternative newspaper in Memphis, reported Wednesday that Tye’s death is the latest in a series of murders of transgender women in the Memphis area in recent years. Other victims include Duanna Johnson, a trans woman who was shot to death in Memphis in November 2008, just months after she accused two Memphis Police officers of making derogatory remarks about her sexuality and then beating her after arresting her on a prostitution charge in June that same year. The beating was captured on videotape.

Other trans women who have been murdered are Tiffany Berry and Ebony Whitaker.

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Barton, Republicans want cuts, but not in subsidies to oil and gas companies

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 6:38pm

The Republicans now in control of the U.S. House have been raising a big ruckus over the need to cut federal spending, and they are willing to cut just about every federal program there is to balance the budget without raising taxes. Those same Republicans have been excoriating President Obama and Democrats in both the House and the Senate for not being willing to make drastic cuts the Republicans say are necessary.

Except in one area: tax subsidies to oil and gas companies.

Democrats want to eliminate the oil and gas subsidies — about $4 billion worth — a move the White House estimates would save about $46 billion over 10 years, according to Talking Points Memo. But Republicans say, no way.

In fact, Texas Republican Joe Barton, the 6th District congressman who lives in Arlington, is one of the chief defenders of the subsidy. In an interview Wednesday with ABC, Barton claimed the tax subsidies are really just equal treatment, and that without them, companies like Exxon Mobile would go out of business.

Barton said: “Over time if you put so many disincentives against any U.S. manufacturing or production company, or oil and gas exploration company, they’ll go out of business.”

Really Joe? We have to cut education funding because America is broke, but we can’t let Exxon Mobile suffer.

In case you didn’t know, in the last quarter of 2010, Exxon Mobile profits rose 53 percent to $9.25 billion thanks to rising oil prices, according to this piece by Robert Creamer at Huffington Post. That puts Exxon Mobile’s profit rate at about $37 billion a year. That’s “billion.” With a “b.”

I’m not sure why Rep. Barton — who by the way is the same guy who apologized during a congressional hearing to BP because people were being so mean to them last year about that little oil spill in the Gulf — thinks Exxon Mobile can’t possibly make it without those tax breaks. I mean, we know for sure the company isn’t spending any money on protections and benefits for its LGBT employees.

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Celebrating ‘Family Time’ with COLAGE

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 5:50pm

COLAGE, an organization for people with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer parents, has just launched its new website, and its chock-full of information, entertainment and resources.

There’s an interactive timeline on LGBTQ families; there’s a blog; there’s a calendar; there’s a video story-wall and more. But perhaps the element with the most impact is the short film, “Family Time,” produced and directed by Jen Gilomen, and featuring the pioneering young men and women who founded COLAGE (back then it was called Just For Us) 20 years ago and who have helped it grow.

Every parent wants the best for their children. Every parent worries about doing something wrong. But when you are L or G or B or T and you are constantly bombarded by negative messages from mainstream society, no matter how confident and proud you are, you sometimes worry that who you are may be hurting your son or daughter.

So watching this film, seeing these proud, strong young people, was a very affirming for me as a lesbian parent. And I can guarantee that everyone will find at least one moment that makes you want to stand up and cheer. For me, the main highlight came about one-third of the way in — between the 4- and 5-minute marks — when the film is showing footage from a Canadian talk show from the early 1990s. In that clip, the young man and young woman who founded Just For Us/COLAGE have been blindsided by the talk show host who has brought on some right-winger to talk about how horrible it is for LGBTs to be raising children, even though the host had promised that wouldn’t happen. But then the young woman, who had a gay father, refuses to take the right-wing crap laying down, telling everyone in no uncertain terms that it isn’t the gay parent that causes problems, it’s the anti-gay assholes who harass and discriminate and intimidate and bully.

I know that at 15 minutes this is a little longer than the clips we usually post on Instant Tea. But it’s worth it.

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Rhode Island House to debate same-sex marriage

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 5:02pm
Gordon D. Fox

The speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, Gordon D. Fox, he is doing everything he can to move a marriage equality bill forward, according to the Providence Journal. Fox is openly gay.

Rhode Island’s new governor, Lincoln Chaffee, is an independent. He replaced a Republican governor who did not support a same-sex marriage bill. Chaffee supports passage of marriage equality in the state.

Currently, Rhode Island recognizes marriage performed elsewhere but does not issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Fox said there is strong support for the bill in the House but passage in the Senate was not certain.

The bill would recognize “civil marriage” between persons of the same sex.

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Catholics For Equality urging support for marriage equality bill in Maryland

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 4:54pm

The Maryland House of Delegates is expected to take up consideration of the same-sex marriage bill there about 11 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time, I assume) on Friday, and according to Maryland Catholics for Equality, “out-of-state anti-gay calls are flooding Annapolis” to try and get the bill defeated.

So the organization is urging pro-equality Maryland residents to be sure and call their delegates to counteract the anti-gay forces.

In an e-mail that just hit my inbox, Maryland Catholics for Equality say: “Call NOW and let your Delegates know three important things: you are an actual constituent (not out of state), you are Catholic, and that you stand with the majority of Catholics in Maryland in support of HB175 — Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. Ask them not to bow down to out of state pressure.”

The measure has already passed the Maryland Senate and Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he will sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk. But things are close in the House of Delegates, where the bill was initially expected to pass easily.

If you aren’t a resident of Maryland, don’t cheat by calling the delegates and saying you are. But keep an eye on Instant Tea tomorrow, and we’ll let you know what happens.

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Polis, Franken tell bullies to ‘pick on someone your own size’ as they introduce SNDA

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 3:46pm
Rep. Jared Polis, left, and Sen. Al Franken today introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act that would protect LGBT students from discrimination and harassment.

As President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a group of students, parents, teachers and other concerned citizens — including Fort Worth’s own Joel Burns — at the White House today, Openly gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., introduced identical bills, called the Student Non-Discrimination Act, in the House and the Senate that would protect students from discrimination and harassment based on “actual or percieved sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In an e-mail announcing the proposed legislation, Polis cited recent efforts by school officials in Flour Bluff High School, near Corpus Christi, to prevent a gay-straight alliance from meeting on school grounds.

“It’s bad enough when a school turns a blind eye to bullying. But when a school district in Texas moved to ban all extracurricular clubs in order to avoid having to approve a Gay-Straight Alliance, it really crossed the line,” Polis said in the e-mail. “The school itself became the bully.”

He added, “Our message is clear: Pick on somebody your own size.”

Polis acknowledged that “the odds of this bill passing this session are uncertain” because some Republicans, “regardless of their personal beliefs, are reluctant to vote for LGBT-friendly legislation.

“But, even though the odds are against me, I can’t stay silent in the face of bullying — especially when the people who are supposed to protect students from bullying have become the bullies themselves,” Polis said, encouraging individuals to become “citizen sponsors” by adding their name as a supporter here.

The ACLU has quickly come out in support of the legislation, with ACLU legislative representative Ian Thompson saying that the legislation could have “a profound impact in improving the lives of LGBT students in our schools.”

Thompson pointed to the numerous LGBT teens who committed suicde after being bullied relentlessly in the late summer and fall of 2010 as evidence of the need for the legislation. Seth Walsh, 13, was one of those teens, and his mother, Wendy Walsh, is an ACLU client. She, too, weigh in today on the need for the SNDA.

“I can’t bring my son back. But schools can make a difference today by taking bullying seriously when students and parents tell them about it. It’s time for change. We have to create better schools for everyone,” said Wendy Walsh, who was also among those attending the White House Conference on Bullying.

In a written statement released after the SNDA was introduced, ACLU officials pointed out that while federal laws currently protect students on the basis of their race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, no federal statute explicitly protects students on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The SNDA, like Title IX, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the various disability civil rights statutes, is not simply legislation that would remedy discrimination after it occurs, but instead would also have the important impact of preventing discrimination from occurring,” the ACLU statement said.

To read the ACLU’s statement in support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, go here. To see video of Wendy Walsh telling her son’s story, go here.

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Kansas sodomy law to remain on the books; Texas law might be removed

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 1:29pm
Rep. Jessica Farrar

A Kansas law that makes sexual contact between persons of the same sex illegal will remain on the books, even though that law was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2003 ruling in  Lawrence v. Texas.

A Kansas Republican and Democrat both said that the law is unenforceable and no one is being hurt by it, according to an MSNBC report. They removed its repeal from pending legislation.

However, according to Thomas Witt, chairman of Kansas Equity Coalition, John Wheeler, the president of the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association, warned a group of adult college students in 2008 that “even to this day, homosexuality is a crime in Kansas.”

In Texas, section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, better known as the sodomy law, also remains on the books.

Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Houston Democrat, introduced HB 604 to repeal 21.06. The bill has been sent to the Criminal Jurisprudence committee for hearing.

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Obamas open conference on bullying at White House

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 12:15pm
President and Mrs. Obama at White House anti-bully conference

President and Mrs. Obama welcomed educators, parents and students to the White House to discuss bullying this morning. The First Lady made the opening remarks followed by the President.

MRS. OBAMA: Good morning.  Thank you. (Applause.) Everyone, please.  Good morning, and welcome to the White House.

I want to thank all of you for joining us here today to discuss an issue of great concern to me and to Barack, not just as President and as First Lady, but as a mom and a dad. And that is the problem of bullying in our schools and in our communities.

As parents, this issue really hits home for us.  As parents, it breaks our hearts to think that any child feels afraid every day in the classroom, or on the playground, or even online.  It breaks our hearts to think about any parent losing a child to bullying, or just wondering whether their kids will be safe when they leave for school in the morning.

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What’s Brewing: NY marriage equality, Bullying, Defending DOMA

Posted on 10 Mar 2011 at 9:39am

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Joel Burns

1. Marriage equality moved a step closer in New York yesterday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with supporters. Bills have passed the Assembly three times but failed in the Senate. Five senators who voted against lost reelection in the last election. The measure will be reintroduced later this session.

2. A White House conference on bullying gets underway at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns is there. The president will announce a new website called Stop Bullying to help combat the problem.

3. House Speaker John Boehner announced today that the House of Representative’s counsel will defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The Washington Post reported that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that defending the law would be lengthy and expensive.

 

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‘Let the Blue Serve You’

Posted on 09 Mar 2011 at 4:31pm

Dallas Police Department traffic officers, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will all be on hand at the Starbucks at 6123 Greenville Ave., from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Friday, March 11 to participate in an even called “Cops & Coffee: Let the Blue Serve You.”

The event is sponsored by the Dallas Police Department and Starbucks Coffee, in preparation for Spring Break, and will give those who attend the chance to the officers, troopers and agents about “traffic laws, alcohol laws and driving on tollways,” according to the flyer e-mailed to us by the DPD’s Public Information Office.

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