Anti-gay factions challenge Houston equal rights ordinance

Posted on 09 Jul 2014 at 1:57pm

Mayor Annise Parker during the HERO debate

Opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance turned in 50,000 signatures to get the issue on the November ballot. Only 17, 269 are needed. The city secretary’s office has 30 days to validate the signatures.

The ordinance passed on May 28. The Houston city charter allows a recall election on an issue if 10 percent of voters in the last election sign a petition. A recall against a mayor or council member requires 25 percent of voters in that election to sign a petition.

Until HERO was passed, Houston was the only major city in the United States without an equal rights ordinance of any sort. In addition to protecting the LGBT community, the ordinance puts into place protections based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information or pregnancy. None of these categories were protected by the city before the ordinance was enacted.

The anti-HERO forces have claimed the law allows men to dress as women so they may enter women’s restroom and attack little girls. There is no mention of bathrooms in the ordinance.

The city plans to defend the ordinance.

“The Houston I know does not discriminate, treats everyone equally and allows full participation by everyone in civic and business life,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “We don’t care where you come from, the color of your skin, your age, gender, what physical limitations you may have or whom you choose to love. I am confident voters will soundly defeat any challenge to the ordinance.”


This Week in Marriage Equality

Posted on 09 Jul 2014 at 11:52am

UNUnited Nations

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the organization will recognize the same-sex marriages of its employees and offer all benefits given to opposite-sex spouses. The change covers 43,000 United Nations employees but does not cover the employees of affiliated organizations like UNICEF or UNESCO. Those organizations will continue to discriminate against their gay and lesbian employees.

In addition, the United Nations continues to adopt anti-gay measures and promote anti-gay perpetrators. The UN General Assembly recently elected the Ugandan Foreign Minister as its next president. Saudi Arabia, which executes gays, was elected to the UN Human Rights Council.


Newspapers in Florida are lining up behind marriage equality. The Tampa Bay Times was the first.

The attorney general “should follow her counterparts in Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania who have refused to defend their states’ same-sex marriage bans. The law once upheld slavery, denied women and blacks the right to vote, segregated schools and banned interracial marriage. In time, the courts will continue to act as they did in those situations and overturn all discriminatory same-sex marriage bans. It makes no sense to defend them, and Florida should abandon a fight it cannot win legally or morally.”

Next was the Miami Herald.

“The fight to defeat a ban on same-sex marriage in Florida is picking up steam,” the Miami Herald wrote. “Progress is slowly, but steadily, being made.”

Today, the Sun Sentinel, which serves Broward and Palm Beach counties came out in favor of equality.

“Florida shouldn’t be digging in its heels against committed gay couples who seek only the same recognition and benefits as straight couples. And Florida shouldn’t be wasting time and money pursuing the right to discriminate,” the paper editorialized.

Bypassing trial

Both sides in two Arizona marriage equality cases requested the judge bypass a trial and issue a ruling. Both cases are scheduled in the same court and all parties agree the judge can rule based on briefs that will be filed.

Plaintiffs in the South Dakota marriage equality case asked the judge to rule without a trail as well.

This is an indication the opposition is running out of stupid, indefensible arguments.


Marriage equality came to Pennsylvania on May 20 when a judge overturned the state’s marriage ban and the governor decided not to appeal. However, a Pennsylvania clerk has asked the Supreme Court to stay the ruling while she appeals on behalf of the state.

If a stay is granted, this would make Pennsylvania the fifth state that issued marriage licenses after a judge ruled and before a court ordered a halt until appeals have been completed. The other four states with couples whose marriages are limbo are Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Utah.

When Pennsylvania became marriage-equality state No. 20, it became the first state that doesn’t have employment nondiscrimination laws. So couples may have to choose between getting married and getting fired for getting married.


LGBT legal organizations withdraw support for ENDA

Posted on 08 Jul 2014 at 3:52pm

Five national LGBT legal organizations issued a joint statement today withdrawing their support for the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — ENDA — because it would allow religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.ENDA

Organizations signing onto the statement are: American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Transgender Law Center.

The statement reads:

“The provision in the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that allows religious organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity has long been a source of significant concern to us.  Given the types of workplace discrimination we see increasingly against LGBT people, together with the calls for greater permission to discriminate on religious grounds that followed immediately upon the Supreme Court’s decision last week in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has become clear that the inclusion of this provision is no longer tenable.  It would prevent ENDA from providing protections that LGBT people desperately need and would make very bad law with potential further negative effects.  Therefore, we are announcing our withdrawal of support for the current version of ENDA.

“For decades, our organizations have challenged anti-LGBT workplace discrimination in the courts and worked for the passage of inclusive non-discrimination laws at the local, state and federal level.  We do this work because of the devastating toll workplace discrimination has had, and continues to have, on the lives of LGBT people.  It is unacceptable that in the year 2014, men and women are forced to hide who they are or whom they love when they go to work.

“The current patchwork of legal protections at the state and local level has left LGBT people vulnerable to discrimination. For this reason, we have supported federal legislation to explicitly protect LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace, and have urged President Obama to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

“ENDA’s discriminatory provision, unprecedented in federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, could provide religiously affiliated organizations — including hospitals, nursing homes and universities — a blank check to engage in workplace discrimination against LGBT people.  The provision essentially says that anti-LGBT discrimination is different — more acceptable and legitimate — than discrimination against individuals based on their race or sex. If ENDA were to pass and be signed into law with this provision, the most important federal law for the LGBT community in American history would leave too many jobs and too many LGBT workers, without protection. Moreover, it actually might lessen non-discrimination protections now provided for LGBT people by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and very likely would generate confusion rather than clarity in federal law. Finally, such a discrimination provision in federal law likely would invite states and municipalities to follow the unequal federal lead.  All of this is unacceptable.

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby has made it all the more important that we not accept this inappropriate provision. Because opponents of LGBT equality are already misreading that decision as having broadly endorsed rights to discriminate against others, we cannot accept a bill that sanctions discrimination and declares that discrimination against LGBT people is more acceptable than other kinds of discrimination.

“Our ask is a simple one: Do not give religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT people when they have no such right to discriminate based on race, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Religiously affiliated organizations are allowed to make hiring decisions based on their religion, but nothing in federal law authorizes discrimination by those organizations based on any other protected characteristic, and the rule should be the same for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Religious organizations are free to choose their ministers or faith leaders, and adding protections for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression will not change that.

“These concerns are not hypothetical. Increasingly, this is what employment discrimination against LGBT people looks like. Take the example of Matthew Barrett.  In July 2013, Matthew was offered a job as food services director at Fontbonne Academy, a college prep high school in Milton, Massachusetts that is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. Fontbonne Academy has employees and admits students of various faiths. Yet, two days after Matthew listed his husband as his emergency contact on the standard employment paperwork, and despite twenty years of work in the food services industry, his job offer was rescinded. Although nothing about the food services job involved religious rituals or teaching, Matthew was told by an administrator that the school was unable to hire him because “the Catholic religion doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.” The current version of ENDA would authorize this sexual orientation discrimination.

“As the national outcry against SB 1062 in Arizona (and similar proposals in numerous other states) demonstrates, the American people oppose efforts to misuse religious liberty as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people.  It is time for ENDA (and the LGBT non-discrimination executive order for federal contractors) to reflect this reality. Until the discriminatory exemption is removed so that anti-LGBT discrimination is treated the same as race, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information under federal workplace laws, we think ENDA should not move forward in Congress. In addition, we will oppose any similar provisions at the state and local level. We are hopeful that the many members of Congress who support this historic, critically important legislation will agree that singling out LGBT people for an unequal and unfair exemption from basic workplace protection falls unacceptably short of the civil rights standards that have served our nation well against other types of discrimination for fifty years. We stand ready and eager to work with them to achieve the long-sought goal of explicit, effective federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.”



Republicans choose to be Hot in Cleveland in 2016

Posted on 08 Jul 2014 at 1:37pm

At least the Trinity has never caught fire like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga did in 1969.

Rather than spend a nice cool week in Dallas in July 2016, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced today the 2016 Republican Convention will be held in Cleveland.

Dallas was one of two finalists for the event. The convention would have been held at the American Airlines Center with one event at Cowboy’s Stadium in Arlington.

Instead, the convention will be held in swing state Ohio. No Republican has won the White House without Ohio. Both Cleveland and Dallas are Democratic strongholds.

But how does Cleveland compare with Dallas for natural beauty? If you think the Trinity is a filthy stream of mud, at least it never caught fire like Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River did in 1969.

The site committee’s recommendation will be finalized by a vote in August and the July start date announced at that time.

Dallas last hosted a national convention in 1984 when Ronald Reagan was nominated for his second term in office. That convention is best remembered by people in Dallas at the time for closed highways in and around downtown.

Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested outside the Dallas Convention Center during the convention for burning a flag. His case went to the Supreme Court, which invalidated all flag desecration laws.

Although a political convention brings a lot of media attention and millions of dollars of revenue to a city, most people in the LGBT community in very blue Dallas reacted with relief.

“DAMN! I had my picket signs all ready,” activist Todd Whitley wrote on his Facebook page.

“Thank God,” wrote Old Oak Cliff Conservation League former President Michael Amonett.

“There is a God,” Scott Cantrell wrote.



Police make arrest in Oak Lawn murder

Posted on 08 Jul 2014 at 11:28am

Murder victim Joshua Tubbleville

Police arrested Deric Madison, 24, in the May 30 murder of Joshua Tubbleville. Madison is being charged with capital murder.

Tubbleville was killed when Madison robbed him in his car and he crashed at the Shell station on the corner of Lemmon and Oak Lawn avenues.

A police spokeswoman said DNA evidence in Tubbleville’s apartment linked Madison to the crime. She said Madison had no criminal history that she knew of and declined to comment on what evidence was found in the condo linking Madison to the crime.

A video taken from inside the Shell station showed a black man exiting Tubbleville’s car immediately after he crashed at the station.

The two had met the night before outside Tubbleville’s building. Madison had a drink and spent the night in Tubbleville’s condo and in the morning, Tubbleville was driving Madison home.

Police called it a crime of opportunity, not a hate crime. After his arrest, Madison gave police multiple versions of what happened that night.

No evidence links Tubbleville to the gay community.


Log Cabin Republicans announce support for HR 4260

Posted on 08 Jul 2014 at 11:24am

U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers

Log Cabin Republicans announced today its support for the Ryan White Patient Equity and Choice Act, introduced in March by U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C.

The bill, aka HR 4260, is intended to ensure appropriate allocation of funding for the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act program. Tim Boyd, director of domestic policy for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, told Dallas Voice in April that the bill would shift funding to account for the rise in infection rates in areas and populations “that didn’t get prevention messages before” especially in the South.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, is one of the co-sponsors of the bill, and Dallas HIV service providers — such as AIDS Services of Dallas (led by CEO Don Maison) and Resource Center (led by CEO Cece Cox) — support the legislation, too.

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said today that HR 4260 would “help hundreds of thousands of Americans with HIV obtain better or first-time care. Furthermore, this bill will continue to fund groundbreaking research that will help eliminate the spread of HIV and save countless lives in the future.”

Angelo said Log Cabin “commend[s] Congresswoman Ellmers for her leadership” on HR 4260 and called on members of Congress of both parties to work together to get it enacted.

Ellmers said she is pleased to have Log Cabin’s support, calling the organization’s backing “an important endorsement [that] speaks volumes for the bipartisan support this bill continues to gain … . I will continue to work with my colleagues to quickly move this bill through the House of Representatives.”

Log Cabin’s press release cited statistics saying there are about 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, but that 20 percent do not know their HIV status and only 40 percent see a medical professional on a regular basis. Another 70 percent “are capable of spreading the virus,” the press released said.




Baptists in the news

Posted on 07 Jul 2014 at 4:38pm
Joe Phelps

Joe Phelps

With a few notable exceptions — for instance, Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas and Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth — the Baptist faith isn’t known for being very welcoming toward and affirming of LGBT people. But the times, they are a’changing, as these news items from the weekend show.

Wedding bells at Kentucky’s Highland Baptist

A Baptist church in Kentucky will host a same-sex wedding next May for two of its gay members, and a Baptist bishop who left her church in Detroit after revealing she had married a woman has started a new congregation in Maryland that is open to the LGBT community.

David Bannister Jr., 29, and Steven Carr, 25, have lived together for five years. For the last two-and-a-half years, the couple have been working to get their church, Highland Baptist in Louisville, Ky., to let them have their wedding ceremony there. Now the church has agreed.

Highland Baptist, with a membership of about 1,200, left the ultra-conservative Southern Baptist Convention about 20 years ago and is now affiliated with the more progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. In 1998, the church included a gay couple’s photo in the church directory, and afterward slowly began to become more welcoming to LGBT people. In 2012, Highland Baptist ordained openly minister the Rev. Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, who leads the church’s gay ministry.

The church formed a subgroup in February 2013 to study the issue of holding same-sex weddings after Bannister and Carr first approached Pastor Joe Phelps, but then postponed any decision. A new subgroup formed the past spring and in May decided unanimously that the church should hold same-sex weddings. Phelps said that church bylaws required the deacons to bring the question to the church membership for a vote. But to do so seemed wrong, he said. The church has posed a “fact sheet” here to “clarify” media reports.

Phelps said, “To vote on it is to basically ask the question, ‘Are gay people fully human like the rest of us?’ I think spiritually and morally, that’s a step we cannot take.”

As it stands right now, even though their church will host their wedding, Bannister and Carr will have to go elsewhere to be legally married, because Kentucky has a ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II recently overturned the ban and the state law prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. But the judge also issued a stay on his ruling pending appeals.

Bishop Abrams’ new church

Baptist Bishop Allyson D. Nelson Abrams, who resigned as pastor of Zion Progress Baptist Church in Detroit last October after announcing she had legally married another woman several months prior, has started a new congregation in Maryland. Empowerment Liberation Cathedral, a member of the Metropolitan Community Churches denomination, is an inclusive, welcoming congregation open to people of all backgrounds, Abrams has said.

Bishop Abrams

Bishop Allyson Abrams

Abrams, 43, was raised as a Baptist and was the first female pastor at Zion Progress church, serving there for five years. She was secretary of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity and was once a leader with the NAACP in Oakland County and president of the Oak Park school board.

Abrams was once married to a man and has three adult children. She had been divorced for several years when she met and fell in love with Diana Williams, a bishop emeritus with the Imani Temple African-American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C. The two women were married in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, in March 2013. Abrams said that while she was not forced out of Zion Progress Baptist Church, news of her marriage had begun to cause discord in the congregation and she chose to resign.

Episcopal Anglican Church of the Ascension in Silver Spring, pastored by Rev. Joan Beilstein, is allowing Abrams’ new church to use its facilities for meetings until Empowerment Liberation Cathedral can find its own facilities.

Abrams made news again last month when she officiated at the wedding of R&B singer Monifah Carter and her girlfriend, Terez Thorpe, which aired on the final episode of the reality TV show R&B Divas of Atlanta on TVOne.


Study shows children with two moms or two dads are healthier and happier

Posted on 07 Jul 2014 at 3:51pm

familyChildren of gays and lesbians are healthier and happier than those in the general population, according to a new study done in Australia.

Simon Crouch, the lead researcher in the study, found children of same-sex couples scored higher on family cohesion, which led to better health.

He found that in same-sex relationships, partners take on parenting, home and work roles more suited to their skills than to gender stereotypes. That leads to a more harmonious family and greater well-being, he said.

The Australian census counted more than 33,000 two-parent families with same-sex parents.

The study took into account age, educational and other disparities between same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents. Same-sex couples have to plan to become parents. They don’t find themselves suddenly pregnant because their birth control didn’t work or because they got drunk one night and woke up the next day and found they had hired a surrogate.

But the researchers took those differences into account and compared the children of gay and lesbian couples with children in the general population with parents of similar incomes, age and economic backgrounds. Children of same-sex couples still scored 6 percent higher.

The higher score came despite findings by the research team that children of same-sex couples face greater social stigma and are often bullied. Same-sex parents said they make sure their children are more resilient than other kids.

The study debunks arguments some states have been making to derail same-sex marriage rulings that continue to be issued across the country. In the recent Kentucky case, the state argued that the birth rate would drop if the court ordered marriage equality. Other states have argued children are better off being raised by a mother and a father, citing the discredited University of Austin’s Mark Regnerus study. That study, however, compared children raised in “failed heterosexual unions” to those raised by heterosexual parents in healthy relationships. One of the parents in each of the failed relationships had a romantic relationship with a member of the same sex at some point, but didn’t raise children in stable two-parent relationships.

This study not only refutes Regnerus and those state arguments that children are better off being raised by a mother and a father, but counters those arguments. When pushed on the issue by the other side, plaintiffs could use this study to actually argue that gays and lesbians make better parents and children are better off with two moms or two dads than with a mother and a father.

Right-wing detractors in Australia claim only parents whose children are doing well volunteered for the study. If that’s true, then only straight parents whose children aren’t doing so well volunteered their children for the study. Doesn’t that sort of prove gays and lesbians are at least smarter parents, if not better parents?

Those detractors also wonder what happens to those well-adjusted children once they reach adulthood. Hmmm … don’t well-adjusted children tend to become productive, well-adjusted adults?


UPDATE: Man dies in fall from Turtle Creek highrise

Posted on 07 Jul 2014 at 11:37am
3500 Turtle Creek

Two buildings in the 3500 block of Turtle Creek Boulevard


The man who jumped from the Turtle Creek highrise has been identified as Kevin Nicolas Day. He was not from Dallas and did not live in the building, according to police spokeswoman Sherri Jeffrey. The death was ruled a suicide.


Dallas police report a man fell to his death from the 11th floor of a highrise in the 3500 block of Turtle Creek Boulevard on July 4 shortly before midnight. Neighbors report there was a disturbance in the apartment earlier in the day. But witnesses said the man who fell was alone on the balcony at the time of the incident.

Police are investigating if the death was an accident or a suicide.

A name has not been released pending notification of next-of-kin, a police spokesman said this morning. Police confirm the victim was a white male in his 30s.

The body landed in the driveway of the complex. The Vendome and 3525 Turtle Creek are the two buildings in the 3500 block of Turtle Creek Boulevard, the block north of Lee Park.


Volunteer opportunity for Tyler-area gays

Posted on 07 Jul 2014 at 10:45am

If you live in or plan to visit the Tyler-Canton-Longview area, Tyler Area Gays and East Texas PFLAG need your help on July 12. Members of these two organizations will be participating in Trash Off Day on July 12 by cleaning up the portion of U.S. 69 that has been adopted by TAG.Screen shot 2014-07-07 at 10.17.18 AM

Participants should be at New Life Worship Center , 18535 U.S. 69 (1.5 miles south of the light at Loop 49 — the modern-looking church up on the hill) by 8 a.m. The TAG portion of U.S. 69 is about 3.3 miles south of the light at Target on South Broadway and on the south side of Loop 49. According to a press release about the clean-up effort, the clean-up ALWAYS starts on time and takes about an hour.

That stretch of highway has two signs — one on the southbound side of the road and the other on the northbound side — noting that it has been “adopted” by Tyler Area Gays. In return, TAG has “agreed to clean up a two-mile section of highway four times a year.” But as TAG leaders pointed out in a press release about the clean-up effort, “A two-mile section may not sound very long but since we are cleaning both sides of the highway, this immediately becomes four miles of cleaning.” So they need all the help they can get.

In the conservative East Texas town where, in 1993, Nicholas West was murdered in a brutal, anti-gay hate crime that made national headlines, it’s significant that an LGBT organization is so out and so visible. As TAG leaders said in their press release looking for clean-up volunteers, “Our participation testifies to our community spirit, promotes teamwork and exercise and makes our presence known. Another way to put it is we want people to know that we we are here and that we are responsible. citizens.”