Ninth Circuit hears three marriage cases

Posted on 09 Sep 2014 at 11:41am

Supreme-Court(5)The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments for and against state marriage bans in Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii — the first time the Ninth Circuit has revisited marriage equality since striking down California’s Proposition 8 in 2012.

Two of the three judges on the panel have ruled favorably on LGBT-rights decisions in the past.

Throughout the hearing, the panel of judges voiced skepticism over whether there is any compelling state interest in allowing state bans to remain legal, and pressed state lawyers to defend the rationale for the bans. At one point, Judge Marsha Berzon said to the lawyer defending two of the three bans, “You’re sending a message that these are less desirable families. That is what you’re doing.”

This is the first time a marriage case is being heard from a state that already has marriage equality. Hawaii became a marriage equality state last fall after Gov. Neil Abercrombie called a special session to deal with the issue. When the court rules in favor of marriage equality — which they’re very likely to do — Nevada officials have already said they do not plan to challenge the ruling and will allow same-sex marriage to begin. Idaho is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Evangelicals for Marriage Equality is a real group

Posted on 09 Sep 2014 at 9:58am


When I saw an article in Time magazine “Evangelicals for Marriage Equality: The Story Behind Our Launch,” it reminded me of the line from Airplane.

“Yes stewardess, I’d like something light to read,” the passenger says.

“How about ‘Great Jewish Sports Heroes,” the flight attendant responds and pulls out a pamphlet.

But Evangelicals for Marriage Equality is serious and group spokesman Brandon Robertson has some impressive statistics to back him up: A third of evangelicals 34 to 48 support marriage equality and 43 percent of those 18 to 33 support marriage equality, according to Robertson.

The group planned to launch with an ad that was rejected by Christianity Today. (see above).

“There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that talk about love. There aren’t any that talk about the definition of civil marriage,” the ad reads.

Whoa. That’s kind of racy for Christianity Today. How dare these evangelical extremists actually read the Bible.

Robertson wrote that he was struggling with that whole annoying “Love Thy Neighbor” thing when he realized he could reconcile marriage equality with his religious belief. Well, he didn’t call it annoying. But other evangelicals must be conflicted with trying to reconcile that commandment with the filth and hatred that regularly spews from their mouths.

And Robertson would take me to task for that previous paragraph. His group takes a middle ground and puts the blame partially on those supporting marriage equality. He wrote that those struggling with the issue are afraid to discuss it out of fear of being branded a bigot.


Congrats to Martina and Julia, to Neil Patrick and David — but especially to Vivian and Nonie

Posted on 08 Sep 2014 at 5:00pm
Martina proposes

Martina Navratilova, left, proposes to Julia Lemigova.

Twenty-five years after she won her fourth and final singles championship at the U.S. Open, tennis great Martina Navratilova dropped to one knee on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Arthur Ashe Stadium to propose to her girlfriend, Julia Lemigivo.

The proposal, which came during a break in play while Navratilova was providing color commentary on the U.S. Open men’s competition, was shown on the stadium’s Jumbotron, and fortunately for Navratilova, Lemigova said yes.

Navratilova, 57, and the 42-year-old Miss USSR have been a couple since 2006. Read more here.

In other celebrity wedding news, Neil Patrick Harris married his longtime partner, David Burtka. The couple married in Italy, with a featured performance from Elton John. Harris and Burtka have been engaged since 2011, and are fathers to twins.

For more info (like how Elton John played at the reception) and to see a gorgeous photo, go here.

But here is the REALLY big wedding news of the past few days: Vivian Boyack, 91, and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, 90, both of Iowa, also got married over the weekend after 72 years together. They exchanged vows on Saturday in a small ceremony in Davenport, Iowa, surrounded by family and friends.

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 4.50.38 PM


UMC Bishop Martin McLee, former St. Luke’s minister, dies

Posted on 08 Sep 2014 at 11:11am

6a00e550255d3c88330191027bf5d2970c-320wiBishop Martin D. McLee, who presided over the United Methodist Church’s New York region and once lived in Dallas, died Saturday, Sept. 6. The LGBT ally was 58 years old.

According to the UMC News Service, the Brooklyn native was called to ministry while attending Dallas’ St. Luke “Community” Church. There, under the leadership of Rev. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. he

 immediately immersed himself in the life of the church, including its many social justice ministries, Holmes recalled. Among other activities, McLee sang in the choir, volunteered with the church’s prison ministry, served in its AIDS ministry and registered voters.

Trained as a lawyer, he enrolled in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology where he received his Master’s of Divinity. He didn’t give up on social justice causes, including his outspoken stances on LGBT equality once he joined the church.

The UMC’s official policy believes being LGBT is “incompatible with Christian teaching,” forbidding clergy from performing LGBT weddings. Pastors violating the policy often go to trial.

McLee advocated against such trials. After a complaint was filed against the Rev. Thomas Ogletree, who is retired, for officiating at his gay son’s wedding, McLee called for “the cessation of church trials” related to same-sex marriage. “Church trials produce no winners … trials are not the way forward,” McLee said at the time.

The full story is here.


Davis addresses Cathedral of Hope

Posted on 08 Sep 2014 at 10:06am

Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Wendy Davis addressed Cathedral of Hope at its 9 a.m. service on Sept. 7 and received an award from the congregation.

Cathedral and Hope for Peace and Justice presented Davis an Advocacy Award “for speaking truth to power on behalf of women.”

In her address to the congregation, Davis said as governor she would always embrace the LGBT community.

“I will remember you, because I am one of you,” she said.

Republican candidate Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott has also been invited to address the church, but has not responded to the invitation.


Anti-Sam protest fizzles at Cowboys Stadium

Posted on 08 Sep 2014 at 9:29am

Pro-EqualityOf the more than 3.62 million members of the American Decency Association claimed by organizer Jack Burkman that planned to protest the Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday, exactly none showed up.

Supporters, however, did show up with signs that read, “Thank you Cowboys” and “Love beats hate.”

Even the American Decency Association disavowed Burkman. On its website, they wrote, “We are not the group in Texas using the name ‘American Decency’ headed by Jack Burkman that is being targeted as planning a protest against football player Michael Sam in Dallas this Sunday.”

American Decency doesn’t claim to like Sam. After disavowing Burkman, the man who proposed a bill to Congress to ban gay players in the NFL, American Decency claims to support “Biblical, traditional marriage.” You know, where marriage is between a man and as many women and concubines as he can afford, but very often has one special wife.

They complain about the kiss between Sam and his boyfriend — which they put in quotes — and then summarize, “In saying all of this, I make this point: We are not the ones behind the protest, but we also do not condone the lifestyle of Michael Sam.”

So since American Decency is against everything that Michael Sam stands for, but they weren’t behind the threatened protest, they ask that people stop emailing them hate mail.

But let’s end on a better note. Here’s a message from a church that doesn’t preach hate and vitriole:





Gay DISD police officer fired after filing complaint

Posted on 06 Sep 2014 at 9:38am

Jeremy+LiebbeDISD police investigator Jeremy Liebbe was fired by Mike Miles after Liebbe filed a complaint over improperly performed background checks, according to WFAA.

Liebbe was put on paid leave in July after opening an investigation into his supervisor. He was looking into claims she didn’t report having been on probation on her employment application.

Liebbe’s attorney, Peter Schulte, called DISD’s announcement “defamatory fiction.”

The termination letter said Liebbe ”acted outside the scope” of his role as manager of the Professional Standards Office.

We’ll be looking into this story and reporting more on it this week. We have open records requests in on this story.


First Mississippi city to offer partner benefits

Posted on 06 Sep 2014 at 8:30am

Mayor Parker Wiseman

Coming out matters. Knowing someone gay makes a difference.

Starkville, Miss. Mayor Parker Wiseman announced his city will offer partner benefits to its LGBT employees. This is the first city in Mississippi to do so, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger. Starkville, south of Tupelo and northeast of Jackson, has a population of about 24,000.

Wiseman is Paul Scott’s cousin. Scott is executive director of AIDS Services of Austin and former director of Equality Texas and Resource Center.

In May, Bay St. Louis, Miss. passed a nondiscrimination ordinance, the sixth one passed in the state. Starkville was one of the first make nondiscrimination its law.


National news notes

Posted on 05 Sep 2014 at 5:09pm

Here are just a few items from around the U.S.:


U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema

Organization calls for release of trans woman raped in ICE custody

PHOENIX, Az. — Trans and queer undocumented immigrants from the Arcoiris Liberation Team and the Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project are demanding that Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema and the LGBT Equality Caucus to join in calls for the release of a trans woman who was raped more than a month ago while in the custody of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency.

Marichuy Leal Gamino, whose legal name is Jesus Leal Gamino, 23, has been housed with male inmates for more than a year in the Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Az. She was allegedly raped by her cellmate in late July. According to the Transgender Law Center, she experienced weeks of “bullying, lewd comments, and threats of rape” from her cellmate, all of which she reported to detention officers, who told her to “deal with it.” After she was raped, she was not only pressured to admit that she consented to it, but she “has still been offered no real recourse or assurance that her safety will be protected,” TLC reports.

Activists with the Arcoiris Liberation Team, AZQUIP, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement say that after being raped, Leal Gamino was put in solitary confinement and denied basic hygiene, and that she has gotten death threats from the man accused of raping her.

Although born a Mexican citizen, Leal Gamino grew up in Arizona and has spent most of her life there.


Lambda Legal HIV Project director appointed to Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

Scott Schoettes, director of Lambda Legal’s HIV Project, has been appointed to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. The 25-member council provides advice, information and recommendations to the secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs and policies to promote effective prevention of HIV disease and to advance research on HIV disease and AIDS.

Schoettes was sworn in for a three-year term on Thursday, Sept. 4.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve in this capacity, and I look forward to working with other members of the council to promote sound federal policies with respect to HIV,” Schoettes said.


Lambda Legal files emergency papers seeking accurate death certificate for gay man’s husband

Attorneys with Lambda Legal on Wednesday, Sept. 3, filed emergency papers asking a U.S. District Court in Arizona to order the state to provide an accurate death certificate to Fred McQuire for his husband, George Martinez, who died Aug. 28.

Without an accurate death certificate naming McQuire as Martinez’s surviving husband, McQuire could face difficulties in handling his late husband’s affairs and in filing for the benefits generally available to a surviving spouse, Lambda Legal attorneys said.

McQuire, 69, and Martinez, 62, lived in Green Valley, and both were U.S. military veterans. Martinez served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, and McQuire served in both the Air Force and the Army, and was stationed in Guam. After leaving the military, Martinez joined the staff of Arizona’s Court of Appeals in Tucson, becoming the court’s first deputy clerk, holding that office for 30 years.

The two men first met in 1969 and were a couple for 45 years. In recent years, both men battled life-threatening illnesses. McQuire has pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s. Martinez was diagnosed three years ago with prostate cancer, a result of having been exposed to Agent Orange while he was in Vietnam. Although the prostate cancer was in remission, in June he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.


CVS Health — not selling cigarettes since earlier this week

Posted on 05 Sep 2014 at 2:01pm

cvs-pharmacyLast week, CVS was selling cigarettes.

This week, not only have they stopped selling cigarettes, but they want you to think of them as a health care provider and go to one of their 900 new in-store clinics for all your primary care medical needs.


“We’ve stopped selling cigarettes,” isn’t the best reason to replace your doctor with your corner pharmacy.

How aggressive will these stores become in pushing their medical services? When I go to CVS or Walgreens, I often ask someone in the store a question if I’m looking for an over-the-counter medication. Will “Try this one” be replaced with “Maybe you should see our doctor first”?

Of course, CVS isn’t looking to replace your doctor. They’re looking to pick up business from the doc-in-the-box quick care medical clinics and from the millions of newly insured. They also looking to pick up some cash business from those who still don’t have insurance.

But “We stopped selling cigarettes last week” just shouldn’t instill confidence in their long-term medical experience. In fact, it says, “Practicing medicine since right after Labor Day.” Perfect — if you’re looking for someone who has days of medical experience.

So far, the new “CVS Health” (as the company has renamed itself) ad campaign reminds me that there are two Walgreens in the neighborhood. At least all their cashiers are trained to ask is, “Can I get you a flu shot with that?”