Religions may refuse to recognize same-sex marriage in Nevada

Posted on 02 May 2017 at 4:25pm

Under a proposed new law that would delete archaic language from the state constitution, Nevada will recognize all marriages equally regardless of gender. That proposition will have to be approved by voters in a ballot measure in 2020.

To make the revision in state law more palatable to voters, religious institutions and clergy may refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.

What that non-recognition means is unclear. Religious institutions that are employers could conceivably refuse to pay for insurance for a same-sex spouse while insuring an opposite-sex spouse. They could retain the right to fire someone for marrying a same-sex spouse, but without nondiscrimination protections that could happen now.

Probably the intention is to assure bigots that no member of the clergy would be forced to perform a same-sex wedding. No clergy has ever been forced to perform any wedding in the U.S.

In most states, including Texas, anti-marriage equality laws remains on the books, although it is unconstitutional and unenforcible because of the Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage.


KY judge recuses himself from adoption cases by same-sex couples

Posted on 01 May 2017 at 4:27pm

Kentucky Judge W. Mitchell Nance has written an order recusing himself from hearing any more adoption cases involving same-sex couples. In his order, obtained by the Washington Post, he explained that he believes “allowing a ‘practicing homosexual’” to adopt would “under no circumstance” promote the best interest of the child. He called his order a “matter of conscience.”

Nance is a family court judge in the 43rd Circuit Court in Barren and Metcalfe counties in southwestern Kentucky. Kentucky law allows judges to recuse themselves when they have “personal bias or prejudice” involving the case.

Conservative groups are lining up to defend the judge and liberal groups are criticizing him.

I don’t get that.

We all have opinions and prejudices. More judges should recuse themselves from cases when they can’t hear those cases in an unbiased way.

This judge recognized his view of practicing homosexuals is not the same as his view of practicing heterosexuals. He probably doesn’t have a very good view of homosexuals who don’t need more practice, either.

More judges should do exactly what he did. I’ve never heard a judge recuse himself from a case involving a practicing black person — is that how Nance would refer to African-Americans? — or a practicing woman. Yet black people, whether practicing or not, are arrested and prosecuted more often and given harsher sentences for the same crime than practicing white folks. Yet practicing bigots who sit on the bench normally don’t recognize their own prejudices and recuse themselves.

Cases of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and even rape are regularly heard by judges who should recuse themselves. The rape victim is often allowed to be treated as the criminal. The practicing woman is often denied equal pay. The harasser can be treated in court as if he has a right to sexual favors.

Since marriage equality gobsmacked Kentucky in the face, Nance has been assigned just two same-sex adoption cases. In the last one, he granted the adoption petition. Two cases in two years isn’t going to put a major burden on the other judge in Nance’s circuit.

So I applaud a judge who recognizes his own biases and recuses himself from hearing a case where he may not give a fair ruling.

So how does this square with my opinion of another Kentucky public servant? Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was allowed to keep her job after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Here’s the difference. Davis not only recused herself, but recused her entire office. Not until she went to jail did she allow someone else in her office to do the job she was elected to do.

So kudos to Judge Nance. Not everyone shares our opinions on everything and I applaud a judge who recognizes his own prejudices and recuses himself rather than rule unfairly.


SCOTUS lets stand California law banning conversion therapy

Posted on 01 May 2017 at 4:14pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal of a lower court ruling to leave standing a 2012 California law banning conversion therapy for minors.

According to Reuters, this was the second time in three years the court had rejected an appeal of the California law. That ruling left in place a lower court ruling that the law neither impinged upon free exercise of religion nor impacted the activities of clergy members.

California passed the law prohibiting state-licensed mental health counselors, including psychologists and social workers, from offering therapy to change sexual orientation in minors back in 2012, making it the first state to pass such a law. SCOTUS refused to review the law in 2014 after an appeals court rejected claims that the ban infringed on free speech rights under U.S. Constitution’s the First Amendment. This time, a Christian minister challenged the law, claiming that it violates religious freedom.

New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and the District of Columbia now have similar laws on the books. The Supreme Court turned away a challenge to New Jersey’s law in 2015.



Living without fear of violence is a theme of BTAC

Posted on 01 May 2017 at 12:17pm

Monica Roberts

The sixth annual Black Trans Advocacy Conference was held in Dallas at the Marriott Quorum last week, and it included a candle-lighting ceremony to remember the nine trans women who have been murdered in the U.S. so far this year. Of those nine murder victims, eight were women of color.

“We are dying daily,” the Rev. Carmarion Anderson said. “Will I be remembered for my hard work or because I was a victim of hate? I could be one of them.”

She said black trans people are tokenized within the LGBT community.

“They’re targeting us, but not connecting with us,” Anderson said.

Resources are given to other organizations that have no employees of color who are transgender. She said that in addition to not getting employment, black trans people then don’t get full access to AIDS medication or to PrEP to prevent exposure to the HIV virus.

Black Trans Advocacy founder Carter Brown said, “More than 40 percent of us are suicidal.” And, he said, the black trans community has the highest rate of unemployment in the country.

“Society has a disgust for our bodies,” Brown said.

Following up on Brown’s remarks, Trenton Johnson, newly-crowned Mr. Black Trans International, said his platform is mental health.

“I am a survivor of several suicide attempts,” he said.

He said encourages people who are transitioning not to just go to counseling to support a name change, but to achieve spiritual wholeness.

Ms. Black Trans International is Tiffany Starr from Atlanta. Her platform is education. She talked about the abuse elderly black trans people face in nursing homes. “You’re going to hell if you don’t go back,” she said trans people in nursing facilities are told.

Trans activist Monica Roberts of Houston called the recent visibility of the trans community a double-edged sword. She said the trans community is being targeted as a reaction to the Obergefell marriage equality decision. While the Supreme Court decision ensures everyone in the LGBT community the right to marry, the right wing, which only thrives when it has a target, has found it can attack trans people with their right to use public restroom facilities.

“Our hope is someday all of us will live without feeling threatened,” she said.


DVtv in Spayse for Friday, April 28

Posted on 29 Apr 2017 at 11:37am

Having trouble getting the embed code for this week’s episode of DVtv in Spayse. But follow this link and go watch Israel Luna, Brandi Amara Skyy and me on the Spayse Station at YouTube.



Here it is!


Dallas welcomes back hippos

Posted on 28 Apr 2017 at 3:40pm

Welcome to Dallas Adhama (uh-DAHM-a) and Boipelo (BOY-pa-lo), our new hippos at the Dallas Zoo.

Adhama loves vamping for the cameras. Boipelo is a little more shy. But the pair hit it off as soon as they met. According to the zoo’s director, Gregg Hudson, we’re hoping for little hippos in the near future and last night Adhama and Boipelo had the same thing in mind.

Adhama was born in San Diego and came to Dallas from the Los Angeles Zoo. Boipelo came from the Albuquerque Zoo.

The new habitat contains a 120,000 gallon pool that Adhama seems to love. Boipelo isn’t as sure, but follows him in.

We haven’t had hippos in Dallas since our last hippo, who had been at the zoo for 51 years, died in 2001.

And while I was at the zoo, I stopped by to say hello to the giraffes and elephants.


What? The Texas legislature is giving a hearing to a NONdiscrimination bill?

Posted on 27 Apr 2017 at 4:27pm

State Rep. Eric Johnson

After weeks of hearings on nonsense legislation designed to turn sheriffs from Texas’ major cities into criminals (the sanctuary cities bill) and turn us all into potty police (the bathroom bills) and prove that Republicans believe in local control, except when they don’t (a whole bunch of bills), a committee of the Texas House of Representatives is going to hear an employment nondiscrimination bill and a gender parity pay bill.

They may not all be happy about it, but they’re going to hear it.

Both bills are sponsored by state Rep. Eric Johnson of Dallas.

On Monday, May 1, Johnson will appear before the House Committee on Business and Industry to discuss HB 225 to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and to discuss HB 290 to prohibit pay discrimination for comparable work based on gender. HB 290 would also prohibit an employer from requiring an applicant to provide their salary history.

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. in room E2.016 in the Capitol.


Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson to host annual conference: A World of Women for World Peace

Posted on 27 Apr 2017 at 2:27pm

Congresswoman Johnson will host her annual conference: A World of Women for World Peace to bring a greater visibility to women who are victims of war and aggression and women who promote peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building activities in their communities. This year’s conference will address the Israel-Palestine peace process and promote a discussion of new ideas for a lasting solution to the conflict. The event will be held at UNT Dallas College of Law on Saturday, April 29 at 9:30 a.m.

To attend, RSVP here. The registration deadline has been extended through Friday, April 28.

Speakers include:

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Hamutal Gouri, Israeli Peace Activist, Women Wage Peace
Yousef Bashir, Palestinian Peacemaker
Imam Omar Suleiman, Muslim Community Leader
Rabbi Nancy Kasten
Reverend Vonciel Jones Hill

A World of Women for World Peace Conference info:

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. (Limited seating. Seating begins at 9 a.m.)

UNT Dallas College of Law (Atrium), 1901 Main St., Dallas 75201


Study finds LGBT youth and adults in Texas vulnerable to stigma and discrimination

Posted on 27 Apr 2017 at 2:00pm

Texas’s legal landscape and social climate contribute to an environment in which LGBT people are at risk of experiencing stigma and discrimination, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

State laws in Texas do not protect LGBT people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and local ordinances protect less than one-fifth of Texas’s residents from such discrimination,” said Christy Mallory, State & Local Policy Director and Anna M. Curren Fellow at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report.  “Additionally, Texas ranks in the bottom quarter of states in terms of social support for LGBT people, although support is increasing over time.”

Texas is home to an estimated 770,000 LGBT adults and 158,500 LGBT youth.  The study documents the prevalence and impact of several forms of stigma and discrimination against LGBT individuals in the state, including harassment and discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations; harassment and bullying in schools; and family rejection. 

Stigma and discrimination can negatively impact LGBT individuals’ health and wellbeing,” said Brad Sears, Executive Director and Roberta A. Conroy Scholar of Law and Policy at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report.  “Research shows that these experiences can lead to economic instability and poorer health for LGBT people.”

In terms of economic stability:

About one-quarter of LGBT adults in Texas report that they do not have enough money for food compared to about one-fifth of non-LGBT adults, according to Gallup data.  Similar proportions of LGBT and non-LGBT people report that they do not have enough money to meet their health care needs.

30 percent of Texas LGBT adults and 26 percent of non-LGBT adults report having a household income below $24,000, according to Gallup data.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 17 percent of respondents in Texas were unemployed, and 34 percent were living in poverty.

LGBT adults and youth in the state are also more likely to experience certain health outcomes that have been linked to experiences of stigma and discrimination:

LGBT adults in Texas are significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder and to report binge drinking than non-LGBT adults, according to data from the 2015 Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

LGB students in Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, were about three times more likely to have seriously considered suicide than non-LGB students in the past year, according to data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

LGB students in Houston and Fort Worth were also more than twice as likely as non-LGB students to report smoking cigarettes in the past month, and were also more likely to report drinking and marijuana use, according to data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The study found that stigma and discrimination against LGBT people in Texas negatively affect the state, businesses, and the economy in a number of ways, including by:

Reducing employees’ productivity and employers’ ability to recruit and retain talented employees;

Increasing LGBT individuals’ reliance on public benefits;

Reducing lifetime achievement of LGBT youth; and

Increasing costs associated with higher incidence of major depressive disorder and binge drinking among the LGBT population.

The study called The Impact of Stigma and Discrimination Against LGBT People in Texas concluded that if Texas were able to move toward creating a more supportive environment for LGBT people, it would likely reduce economic instability and health disparities experienced by LGBT individuals, which, in turn, would benefit the state, employers, and the economy.


Heineken offers a whole new kind of beer ad — and it’s kind of amazing

Posted on 26 Apr 2017 at 12:30pm

Well, I don’t drink beer. But I definitely think that this ad proves a point: When we are open and honest about who we are, and when we are willing to talk without rancor we can change the world.

Thanks Heineken.