Only seven Texans receive perfect score in HRC Congressional scorecard

Posted on 09 Oct 2014 at 10:45am

TexasThe Human Rights Campaign today, Oct. 9 released its Congressional Scorecard measuring support for LGBT equality in the 113th Congress. Only seven of Texas’ 38-member delegation received perfect scores, even as results show record gains in support for LGBT equality.

Members of Congress were scored based on their votes and co-sponsorships of pieces of legislation that are key indicators of support for LGBT equality, and for the first time ever, their public support for marriage equality, according to a statement provided by HRC.

“We stand at a critical juncture in our fight for full LGBT equality,” said Chad Griffin, president of HRC. “While we’ve made tremendous progress in gaining support from our elected officials in Congress, we certainly still have much to accomplish.”

His statement could not be more true, especially within the Texas delegation.

Of Texas’ 36 House representatives and two senators, only seven House Democrats received a 100 percent score. They are Reps. Al Green, Beto O’Rourke, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett, along with Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Marc Veasey of Fort Worth.

Other Texas Democrats had mixed scores: Rubén Hinojosa, 89 percent; Pete Gallego, Henry Cuellar and Gene Green, 68 percent; Filemon Vela, 84 percent. Gallego represents the only congressional swing district in Texas.

In the Republican camp, five Republicans received 30 percent: Louie Gohmert (no, really), Ted Poe, John Culberson, Pete Olson and Steve Stockman, who lost a primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn earlier this year. Cornyn, by the way, scored zero while his colleague in the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz, scored 20 percent.

To the North Texans looking at this list, unless you live in Johnson or Veasey’s district, your congressperson scored zero. A difference of 100 percent — 100 percent.

No other member of the local delegation even got brownie points for saying “gay.” That includes: Reps. Joe Barton, Michael Burgess, Kay Granger, Ralph Hall, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, Pete Sessions and Roger Williams.

(Don’t know who represents you? Click here and type in your info.)

Want to change that? Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 20 and runs through Friday, Oct. 31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.


Friends of Dorothy can get married in Kansas

Posted on 08 Oct 2014 at 4:42pm

KansasWell, this is embarrassing. Kansas officially has marriage equality before Texas. Not quite as embarrassing as Oklahoma being ahead of us, but embarrassing nonetheless.

AP reports that Johnson County Chief District Judge Kevin Moriarty in northeast Kansas ordered the county to begin issuing marriage licenses.


Florida woman and her late wife are first same-sex couple to get legal recognition in Florida

Posted on 08 Oct 2014 at 3:23pm

Arlene Goldberg, left, and her late wife Carol Goldwasser

The good news on marriage equality just keeps on coming this week.

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from five states, covering seven lawsuits which in circuit courts of appeal had ruled same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. That cleared the way for weddings to start in five states for sure, plus six more states within those circuit courts’ jurisdictions.

Then the 9th Circuit Court upheld lower court rulings in two cases — from Nevada and Idaho — overturning bans there. Those rulings could affect three more states. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy granted a stay in that ruling insofar as Idaho is concerned, because state officials there asked for a stay. But Nevada officials have chosen not to appeal the ruling regarding their state — amid fears of a boycott by LGBT tourists and their allies in a state whose lifeblood is tourism — and AP was reporting Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 8, that Kennedy’s stay does not affect Nevada.

And now comes word from Equality Florida that the first same-sex marriage is being recognized there by state officials.

On Aug. 21, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle declared that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and even though his ruling was stayed, he ordered the state to issue a new death certificate for Carol Goldwasser that would name Arlene Goldberg, her partner of 47 years, as her legal wife.

Goldberg was added as a plaintiff in Grimsley and Alby v. Scott when the ACLU filed a motion of preliminary injunction in April asking the court to immediately stop enforcing the same-sex marriage ban there. Goldberg received the new death certificate on Wednesday, making her and Goldwasser the first same-sex couple to have their marriage legally recognized by the state.

Goldberg said it was difficult to express “how meaningful this is to me.”

She said, “For 47 years, Carol and I made our lives together, all the while being treated like strangers in the eyes of the law in Florida. It’s bittersweet that Carol isn’t here to share this joy with me, but for the first time in 47 years, our marriage was respected. Our relationship and commitment to each other is finally recognized.”

Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida, said Wednesday that while she and her organization share Goldberg’s joy, “Couples shouldn’t have to wait until one spouse dies to receive the recognition and dignity that they deserve.” Smith added that Equality Florida is “more committed than ever to seeing the day when all Florida couples and families and treated equally and fairly.”

Smith also called on Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to “drop their appeals and let marriage for all couples move forward in the Sunshine State.”


DIFFA/Dallas awards funds to Resource Center nutrition programs

Posted on 08 Oct 2014 at 2:45pm

Resource Center officials announced Wednesday, Oct. 8, that their agency has received a $22,500 award from the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS/Dallas (DIFFA/Dallas) for the center’s nutrition programs. The money was awarded at an event held Sept. 12 at Roche Bobois.

Resource Center offers nutritional services through its food pantry as well through its hot lunch program.

The pantry, which began in 1985 out of a cardboard box at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, is presently located 5450 Denton Drive Cutoff and serves around 1900 clients every month.

The center began a hot lunch programs for its clients in the early 1990s. It is one of two agencies in Dallas County providing hot meals in a nonresidential setting to those living with HIV/AIDS, making the critical link between nutrition and treatment adherence. More than 100 clients a day eat lunch at the center Monday through Friday.

DIFFA is the oldest and one of the largest funders of HIV/AIDS service and education programs in the United States. Founded in 1984, DIFFA has mobilized the immense resources of the design communities to provide over $38 million to hundreds of AIDS organizations nationwide.

With events including the House of DIFFA each spring, DIFFA/Dallas has granted nearly $7 million to organizations across North Texas, including Resource Center. March 2015 will mark the 25th anniversary of the House of DIFFA.


Dallas Ebola patient has died

Posted on 08 Oct 2014 at 10:53am

Thomas Eric Duncan

Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan died at 7:51 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, according to a statement by Texas Health Resources’ Public Relations Director Wendell Watson.

“Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola,” Watson said in the statement posted on the THR website. “He fought courageously in this battle. Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time.”

Both Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued statements regarding Duncan’s death.

Jenkins said his thoughts are with Duncan’s family, praising the hospital staff that treated and cared for Duncan, and offering “prayers of comfort and peace to everyone impacted by his passing.”

Rawlins offered “deepest sympathies” to Duncan’s family and friends but also reiterated his pledge to avoid more cases of the deadly virus in Dallas: “We will stop the Ebola virus in its tracks from spreading into our community.”


U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham can finally get married in his home state

Posted on 08 Oct 2014 at 10:37am
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Sen. Lindsey Graham

South Carolina began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this morning, although the state has not officially sanctioned marriage equality and the ban officially remains in place.

Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon said in a statement that in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s inaction in rejecting appeals in cases where state same-sex marriage bans were overturned — including a case from South Carolina — he was “required to accept and issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.”

During the state’s Republican primary, incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham was seen as vulnerable to a challenge from the right-wing of his party for his several “moderate” stances, including supporting President Obama’s SCOTUS nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and for immigration reform.

One of his primary challengers, Dave Feliciano, told the U.S. News and World Report he believed the unmarried Graham was “ambiguously gay.” Graham ultimately triumphed over Feliciano and others.

Despite more moderate stances on some issues, Graham voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2013 and has said he is against same-sex marriage.

Regardless of whether he is gay, “ambiguously gay” or neither, Graham can now get married in his home state — to either the man or woman he loves.


UPDATED: SCOTUS’ Anthony Kennedy stays same-sex marriages in ID, NV

Posted on 08 Oct 2014 at 9:46am

1215 flashU.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has issued a stay on same-sex marriages in Idaho and Nevada pending any further order by Justice Kennedy or the entire court.

“Lawyers for same-sex couples were told to file a response by 5 p.m. Thursday to Idaho’s request,” according to SCOTUS blog. The full order can be found here.

An AP report confirmed BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner’s earlier inquiry that the stay would affect same-sex marriages in Nevada, which were also impacted by the Ninth Circuit court’s decision

Having allowed those other rulings to take effect without a full review by the Supreme Court, it would be surprising if the justices were to put the 9th circuit ruling on hold for any length of time.

The high court’s action Monday suggested that only an appellate ruling upholding a gay marriage ban would prompt the court to step in.

It’s just another twist from a court full of surprises this week.

Check out the Voice for ongoing news about this week’s rulings on same-sex marriages.


More architectural destruction in Oak Lawn

Posted on 08 Oct 2014 at 9:36am

SohipA wrecking crew tore down a house in the SoHiP (South of Highland Park) neighborhood in Oak Lawn this week. While the neighborhood does have one of Oak Lawn’s few neighborhood associations, no buildings in the area are protected with landmark designation.

This house was on Bowser Avenue, one door down from Douglas Avenue. Combined with an empty lot next door and zoning changes that encourage more density, the block will probably have double the number of residents within a year.

Last year, a 1920s apartment building was torn down several blocks away. Despite a neighborhood outcry, that historic building was torn down to be replaced by twice as many units in a nondescript building without any character.


Idaho and Nevada marriage bans ruled unconstitutional

Posted on 07 Oct 2014 at 3:39pm

Las Vegas

Same-sex couples may soon have the right to get married by Elvis impersonators.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. The three-judge court voted unanimously.

Fearing a tourism boycott from the LGBT community, officials in Nevada previously said they will not appeal a ruling on their marriage law. The state already had domestic partnerships.

Idaho is more likely to ask for a stay and appeal the decision.

If the 11 states affected by yesterday’s Supreme Court decision not to hear five appeals all begin issuing licenses as well as today’s two states, the count will be 32 state + the District of Columbia with marriage equality to 18 states without. Texas, a “without” state, is becoming part of a very exclusive club that includes only Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, North and South Dakota, Arizona, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Montana.



Cruz, Gohmert among Texas officials inducted into HRC’s Hall of Shame

Posted on 07 Oct 2014 at 3:33pm

Louie GohmertIf you didn’t know already, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Louie Gohmert aren’t LGBT allies. Today HRC enshrined their anti-LGBT legacies in its inaugural Hall of Shame, recognizing a bipartisan group of legislators who rank poorly on their annual congressional scorecard.

The latest scorecard will be released Thurs., Oct. 9, on the HRC website here.

Joined by Cruz and Gohmert are 16 other members of the 113th Congress, including two additional Texans, Reps. Randy Neugebauer and Randy Weber. While there are a lot of anti-LGBT members in the Texas delegation and in Congress, HRC notes this list is not solely based on votes but clear vitriol and rhetoric lobbed at the LGBT community.

“HRC identified these elected officials … by looking at their voting records in this and previous Congresses, their introduction and co-sponsorships of anti-LGBT legislation and their public statements. These elected officials’ legislative actions, votes and anti-LGBT vitriol unfortunately marks them with a modern day scarlet letter,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director in a statement. ”Although Congress is beginning to catch up with the American people in supporting LGBT equality, Representative Gohmert [and Sen. Ted Cruz] record stands in stark contrast to the views of the majority of Americans,” Stacy added.

Gohmert is a vitriolic, right-wing lightning rod with a law degree representing a chunk of East Texas. HRC cited his colorful allusions of the LGBT community in explaining its choice. “Gohmert always has negative things to say about LGBT people.  Not content to falsely blame gay men for pedophilia, or state with certainty that same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality, his outrageous comparison this Congress was to compare LGBT advocates to Nazis.”

Gohmert recently passed on the opportunity to run in the GOP primary against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. He didn’t, and instead Texas got to see his fellow Republican Rep. Steve Stockman crushed.

Cruz is a vitriolic, right-wing lightning rod with a law degree (hah, see that?) who was elected to the Senate in 2012 who is considering a presidential run. Stacy did not hesitate to ding the feisty Cruz. “[He] likes to stand out in a crowd.  As the author of the federal ‘State Marriage Defense Act’ introduced in February, he collaborated with his Texas colleague Rep. Randy Weber to make sure his same-sex married constituents would have no federal protections.  He is actively working to prevent marriage equality from becoming a reality for all Americans. Following the Supreme Court’s action on Monday to reject the appeals requests of five states with same-sex marriage bans ruled unconstitutional by lower courts, Senator Cruz announced he will introduce a constitutional amendment barring the federal government and the courts from overturning state marriage laws.”

Joining Gohmert, Neugebauer and Weber in the House are: 2012 GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachman (R-MN), Andy Harris (R-MD), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Mike Kelly (R- PA), Steve King (R-IA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Steve Pearce (R-NM) and Tim Walberg (R-MI). Bachmann and McIntyre are not running for re-election.

Cruz is joined by Michael Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Enzi, Inhofe and Sessions are all up for re-election this fall but are expected to cruise to re-election.