Obama taps Hagel despite opposition from LGBT groups, right-wingers

Posted on 07 Jan 2013 at 3:32pm

Chuck Hagel

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz probably didn’t expect his first major stand in the U.S. Senate to be firmly on the same side as his LGBT constituents.

But Cruz and LGBT groups — along with right-wing supporters of Israel, some Jewish groups and many Democrats who want a Democrat appointed — are united in their opposition to the nomination of Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. Sen. John Cornyn also said he opposes Hagel’s nomination.

Cruz said on Fox News Sunday he couldn’t imagine supporting Hagel because of his anti-Israel positions.

Log Cabin Republicans has been among the most vocal of Hagel’s LGBT opponents. Log Cabin, which took a leading role in the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” took out full-page ads last week in the New York Times and today in the Washington Post opposing the nomination. In 2011, Log Cabin won a lawsuit challenging DADT that resulted in a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordering the federal government to stop enforcing it. The ruling came after repeal legislation passed but before final enactment.


Friends start Facebook page to support gay-friendly businesses in Denton

Posted on 04 Jan 2013 at 3:36pm

Kat Ralph

After an anti-gay encounter at a local bar where Kat Ralph and her friends often hang out, she turned to Facebook for support and launched a page as an online forum.

Ralph and about 10 friends were at Abbey Underground bar in Denton Saturday, Dec. 29, when a group of about 15 middle-aged adults started giving her and friends dirty looks, making them feel uncomfortable.

The looks went on for about an hour until one woman walked up to Ralph after she kissed her girlfriend. The woman put her hand in her mouth, gesturing as though she was going to vomit, and told Ralph she made her sick.

“She got in our faces and called us sick individuals,” she said.

Ralph’s friends approached management about intervening because they felt uncomfortable and wanted to have fun in the bar. Management refused to talk to the woman or the group she was with because it was a “he said, she said” situation, Ralph said, but they did offer to pay two of their tabs. So Ralph and her friends left.

“They [management] didn’t do anything,” she said, adding that she’d never had a bad experience there. “It was super disappointing.”


SMU adds transgender protections

Posted on 04 Jan 2013 at 10:15am

SMUSouthern Methodist University has issued a new statement of nondiscrimination. The previous policy covered sexual orientation but not  gender identity and expression. The new policy reads:

SMU will not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status. SMU’s commitment to equal opportunity includes nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

The policy reportedly went into effect on Jan. 1 after being approved in December. SMU is believed to be the first four-year university in North Texas with a fully inclusive policy. For the first time in several years, SMU was not included in the Princeton Review’s 2012 list of most homophobic campuses.

Dallas County Community College added gender identity and expression to its nondiscrimination policy last year.

Representatives from SMU couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the change.


El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke among strongest new LGBT allies in Congress

Posted on 04 Jan 2013 at 8:36am

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

The new 113th Congress was sworn into office Thursday. Six openly LGBT representatives will serve in the new House of Representatives, and Tammy Baldwin became the first openly LGBT person to serve in the Senate.

In addition, Texas has five new Democrats in its delegation including strong LGBT allies. Locally, that includes Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.

Elsewhere in Texas, Beto O’Rourke, whose district includes El Paso and far west Texas, worked hard for the LGBT community when he served on the El Paso City Council.

O’Rourke recently sat down with Dallas Voice to talk about a wide range of issues, including his long-running support for LGBT equality.

In his primary campaign, O’Rourke said he called marriage equality a core civil rights issue. He said position on the issue was a reason he unseated incumbent Rep. Silvestre Reyes.


Dallas County employees can now enroll in DP benefits program

Posted on 03 Jan 2013 at 1:47pm

Gay Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons forwarded this document that was emailed to county employees by the human resources department. (click to enlarge)

Dallas County’s domestic partner benefits program began Jan. 1 and the human resources department already has information up online reminding people of the qualifications.

After hitting roadblocks to offer the benefits through the healthcare co-op the county is a member of, the benefits were approved 3-2 by the Commissioner’s Court on party lines in October.

Partners of same- and opposite-sex employees who do not have insurance are can receive a subsidy toward their own privately purchased plan. They must have lived together for at least six months, be 18 years or older and not currently married. The county will reimburse employees for 45 percent of their partners’ insurance or up to $295.78 monthly — the amount the county contributes toward employees’ coverage — whichever is less.

Documentation for adults and children is listed below.


Congresswoman Johnson speaks out against more spending to defend DOMA

Posted on 03 Jan 2013 at 1:42pm

U.S. House Republicans’ funding of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act continued Thursday as they authorized more spending to defend it in court.

Republicans included authorization of their efforts to defend DOMA in the Rules of the House of Representatives. Spending for DOMA’s defense has reached nearly $2 million.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, joined several who spoke out against the continued funding.

“House Republicans continue to demand drastic cuts to government programs at all levels under the guise of reducing wasteful spending,” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “Yet, the GOP’s decision to retain a private law firm to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is both hypocritical and a waste of taxpayer funds.  It needs to be very clear to the American people that the views of the House of Representatives are not being fully represented.”

Johnson voted for DOMA in 1996, but is now a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, and the Human Rights Campaign also issued statements.

“It’s truly disheartening that, on a day of new beginnings on Capitol Hill, the leadership of the House of Representatives is advancing a measure, through its rules, to continue spending taxpayer dollars on expensive lawyers to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court,” Solomon said. “This law has been struck down as unconstitutional 10 times, with support from judges appointed by Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes. It’s past time for the Republican leadership to listen to their constituents, a majority of whom support the freedom to marry, and stop wasting precious resources in an effort to treat fellow Americans as second-class citizens.”

HRC’s statement is below.


WATCH: CW33’s ‘The Gay Agenda’

Posted on 03 Jan 2013 at 7:13am

CW33’s Doug Magditch ditched me (get it?) this week for The Advocate. That’s OK, it’s hardly the first time, and after all I did cheat on him recently with WFAA. But no, he says it was only because of the holidays, and we’re gonna get back together next week. Should I believe him? Maybe if I post “The Gay Agenda” anyway he’ll come crawling back. Is this getting creepy yet? Watch it after the jump.


Texas among states ‘Least Likely to Legalize Gay Marriage Anytime Soon’

Posted on 02 Jan 2013 at 1:06pm

While a record number of Texas voters support some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, the Lone Star State is still viewed as one of the last states that will legalize it.

A Huffington Post article ranks the nine states that are the least likely to legalize same-sex marriage in the near future based on the percentage of voters who favored a state constitutional ban.

Mississippi was No. 1 with 86 percent of voters who supported the ban, followed by Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.

Texas passed its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions in 2005 with 76 percent of voter support.

Austin’s KUT News recently examined if marriage equality could come to Texas, which could happen depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court’s rules in the Proposition 8 case that challenges California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

LGBT experts believe that if the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t affect Texas, it could take a decade for the high court to hear another case that would ultimately force Texas to recognize same-sex marriages.


The Brick reopens for New Year’s Eve after fire causes damage to strip center

Posted on 02 Jan 2013 at 12:10pm

Recovery trucks are parked outside Sal’s Pizza Restaurant, which is hoping to reopen Friday after a fire at Oishii caused damage. The Brick was closed Sunday but reopened for New Year’s Eve. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Wycliff Avenue gay bar The Brick reopened for New Year’s Eve after a fire caused major damage to nearby Oishii Sushi on Dec. 30, according to Brick spokesman Jimmy Bartlett.

Dallas Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Lavender said the cause of the fire is under investigation. There were no injuries.

Sal’s Pizza Restaurant and a dental office, which are next to Oishii, suffered water and smoke damage. Sal’s representatives said they are hoping to reopen Friday.

Bartlett said the Brick had only minor smoke damage. Electricity was restored to the bar on Monday morning but as of this morning, the office, situated between the bar and a bank, was still without power.

“Somehow they skipped us when they turned the power back on,” Bartlett said, adding that the gas also was still off.

The two-alarm fire was reported at 6:37 a.m. About 40 firefighters responded.

“Our biggest concern was extension of the fire,” Lavender said.

The Hondo Park apartments are directly behind the shopping center and firefighters were concerned the fire might spread to the residential units.


PHOTO: Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez sworn in to 3rd term

Posted on 01 Jan 2013 at 12:10pm

(Photo courtesy of Brad Watson/WFAA-TV)

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez was among county elected officials who were sworn in this morning at the Hyatt Regency downtown during a New Year’s Day brunch hosted by the Democratic Party. Valdez, who became Dallas County’s first female, first Hispanic and first lesbian sheriff in 2005, is beginning her third four-year term after defeating Republican Kirk Launius in November.