New York and Atlanta fire departments are worlds apart

Posted on 25 Nov 2014 at 3:49pm

Jonathan WestAtlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran published a book called Who Told You That You Were Naked? In it, he calls homosexuality “unclean,” “a sexual perversion,” “vulgar” and “inappropriate.”

Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran without pay and said in a statement, “I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.”

The suspension lasts one month. Before returning to work, Cochran must complete sensitivity training and he’s prohibited from distributing the book on city property.

In New York, former gay porn star Jonathan West went to work for the fire department this week. Questioned about it, the department’s spokesman said the city has age and fitness requirements, but the city’s civil service law doesn’t bar candidates who have posed nude or starred in X-rated films.

“The legal department is aware of his work history,” the spokesman told the New York Daily News.

The newspaper talked to other firefighters in his new station.

“Whatever, I don’t care,” one firefighter told the reporter.


Plaintiffs ask judge to lift Texas marriage stay

Posted on 24 Nov 2014 at 12:54pm

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes

Two couples, including Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes of Plano, asked a federal judge in San Antonio to lift his stay and allow Texas couples to marry immediately.

Phariss and Holmes sued Texas for the right to marry and have out-of-state marriage recognized along with a couple from Austin. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in February that the Texas ban is unconstitutional, but he put a stay on his order while the state appealed.

Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from other states and the number of marriage equality states increased from 19 to 35.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case on Jan. 9. Should Orlando lift his stay, the conservative 5th Circuit is likely to place a new stay on the ruling until it hears the case.


AIN open after water line break

Posted on 24 Nov 2014 at 11:32am

AINAIDS Interfaith Network was forced to cancel its Saturday Night Live at the Daire Center event due to a water line break. But as of Monday morning offices are open and will operate on a normal schedule through the Thanksgiving holiday.


This Week in Marriage Equality: Montana appeals, Kansas remains stubborn

Posted on 24 Nov 2014 at 11:31am


Although Montana became a marriage equality state on Nov. 20, the 9th Circuit is allowing the state to continue its appeal.

While the state’s Republican attorney general is doing what he can to restore discrimination, the Montana’s Democratic governor is taking steps to ensure newly married couples are recognized and afforded the responsibilities of all married Montanans.

The court set Feb. 27 as the date the state must file its arguments challenging the ruling that struck down the marriage ban and March 30 as the date for plaintiffs to respond.

The 9th Circuit accepted the Montana case so it can tell the state they meant their discrimination is just as illegal as it is elsewhere in its jurisdiction. In its Nevada and Idaho rulings, the court threw out marriage discrimination because it was based on animus and violates due process and equal protection. The same court struck down Prop 8 in California, a decision that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Although about half the counties in Kansas have begun issuing marriage licenses, the state isn’t recognizing them. The state claims it is following the court order to issue licenses, but the order said nothing about issuing valid licenses or standing behind the licenses it’s selling to its citizens.

Until ordered to do so, the state is refusing newly married same-sex couples benefits ranging from being able to change the last name on their driver’s licenses to spouses of state employees receiving health benefits.


After Michigan’s marriage law was struck down and before the state obtained a stay, about 300 couples were married. Now that the 6th Circuit declared discrimination against same-sex couples is legal, the state is not recognizing those marriages.

“From a legal standpoint, because the marriages rested solely on the District Court’s erroneous decision, which has now been reversed, it is as if the marriages never existed,” the state argues.


Was Ty Herndon really brave? I say yes

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 12:48pm

Ty Herndon and Chely Wright

So, Ty Herndon came out as a gay man this week. Some folks quickly applauded him for being so brave. Others said ya know, maybe he wasn’t so brave after all. I mean, he was already a star. He already had his hit songs. And there are already any number of other performers — singers, actors, etc. — who have come out. We already know you aren’t automatically killing your career by coming out.

Except that Ty Herndon is a country-western singer. That’s a little different. Sure, Chely Wright came out a few years ago, you might point out, and she’s a country-western singer. True. But how often have you seen her name at the top of the charts since she came out?

(C&W singer Billy Gilman came out Thursday, too, a few hours after Herndon, citing Herndon as his inspiration.)

I like country-western music. I always liked Chely Wright’s music, and I always liked Ty Herndon’s music. I hope that both of them see a resurgence in their careers soon, with LGBTs buying their music in a show of support if nothing else and with non-LGBT fans of C&W buying their music because it is just good music and the sexual orientation of the singers doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

I’m LGBT and I am a C&W music fan. So I am gonna buy Ty Herndon’s new album for both reasons – to show support and because I like his new song, “Lies I Told Myself.” I like the video, below, too.

So here’s to you, Ty Herndon. You may not have been the first performer to come out, or even the first professional C&W singer. But I still think it took some courage. It always does, no matter who you are. I can’t say there won’t be some folks who condemn you for being gay, including some in our own tribe who might say you’re just looking for publicity. But count me among those who applaud you for being honest, who applaud you as a good entertainer, and who welcome you into the light.

(And by the way Chely Wright, if you’re listening, I’ll buy your new music, too.)


More pics from David’s day in prison

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:58am

The account of my visit to the Allred Unit outside Wichita Falls is here. These are some additional pictures of Anthony Garcia, filmmakers Christopher Hines and the Allred Unit.


Dallas elected officials in D.C. for Obama speech on immigration

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:54am

Sara Adam Omar

Dallas County Justice of the Peace Sara Martinez, Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano and Dallas County School Board member Omar Narvaez were among those outside the White House in Washington, D.C. with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Thursday night, Nov. 20, for President Barack Obama’s speech about immigration. Narvaez was interviewed by the BBC. Former Dallasite Jesse Garcia, who now lives in D.C. and works for the federal government, and former City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano were there too.

Martinez, Medrano and Narvaez were also in D.C. for the NALEO institute for newly elected officials.

Narvaez BBC


Food pantry clients need your help

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 9:45am
Screen shot 2014-11-21 at 9.14.07 AM

The cupboard is bare

Once again, the cupboards are bare.

In this season of thankfulness and sharing, the Resource Center’s food pantry is in critical need of canned vegetables, canned meats, and condiments. The bulk of the food is purchased from the North Texas Food Bank at a significantly reduced price, but their inventory has been excruciatingly low.

After serving all the HIV-positive clients on Monday, the food pantry had only a shelf of canned carrots left. Typically, the center’s food pantry sees its highest demand for products in November and December. Please help the clients and make a donation of food and/or cash before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Pantry Wish List:

Canned meats: tuna, chicken, chili, Spam
Canned soups and ramen noodles
Canned vegetables and fruits
Boxed cereal
Dry staples: rice, beans, pasta
Juice: juice boxes and canned juices
Condiments: ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, sugar
Pop-top cans and commercially wrapped single-serve items work best for our clients

Food drop-off locations:

Food Pantry, 5450 Denton Drive Cut Off, Dallas, 75235
Monday: 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
Friday-Sunday: Closed

John Thomas LGBT Community Center, 2701 Reagan St., Dallas, 75219
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday: Closed


Country singer Ty Herndon comes out as gay

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 3:24pm

Country singer Ty Herndon came out as gay in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight.

Watch a segment of the video below.


4 DFW corporations earn perfect scores on Equality Index

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 1:57pm

GayTexasFlagTwo local companies participated for the first time in the latest Corporate Equality Index, the annual assessment of corporate LGBT policies and practices released Wednesday, Nov. 19, by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Celanese Corporation of Irving and RadioShack of Fort Worth joined 42 other Texas-based companies on this year’s CEI, which evaluates Fortune 1000 companies and law firms on a 1-100 scale across five categories: non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion, public commitment to LGBT equality and corporate responsibility.

Four Dallas/Fort Worth companies achieved the rare perfect 100 score, among them AT&T and Comerica of Dallas, American Airlines of Fort Worth and GameStop of Grapevine.

American Airlines is among just nine companies nationwide that have received perfect scores each year since the CEI began in 2002.

“The Corporate Equality Index shows just how much progress American businesses have made in promoting fairness, spurred on by leadership from Texas-based employers,” said Deena Fidas, who heads the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Project and is co-author of the CEI. “Texas companies can tell you: equality works — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is simply good business to give everyone a fair shot at success in the workplace.”

Celanese was lauded for dramatically improved its score from 15 to 80 points by taking action that included adding gender identity protections to its non-discrimination policy, as well as instituting domestic partner medical benefits, same-sex partner benefits and an LGBT employee resource group with executive support.

RadioShack’s active participation earned the corporation 15 points over last year’s score. ExxonMobil of Irving, notoriously hostile to LGBT equality, has been given a score of -25 for shareholders’ actions in repeatedly voting against a policy protecting LGBT employees.

Rafael McDonnell, advocacy and communications director for Resource Center, said, “Celanese is one of the oil and gas and engineering companies who see the benefits of inclusion.” He noted that oil and gas giants like Celanese, as well as manufacturing, biotechnology and other companies in business sectors that have been under-represented are a focal point for LGBT workplace advocates like Resource Center and HRC.

AT&T celebrated its leadership on LGBT issues, as seen in the video below.

“When you have a culture where everyone can bring their full selves to work each day, it’s amazing what happens,” said Debbie Storey, AT&T senior vice president of talent development and chief diversity officer. “At AT&T we’ve long known that inclusion drives innovation – and that a truly inclusive culture is defined by its action, policies, and accountability practices. HRC understands that too, which is why this recognition is so meaningful to us.”