Posted on 05 Aug 2014 at 1:04pm

Andrew Thomas

Is he really fooling anyone with this ad?

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Andrew Thomas says in his campaign ad, “We must defend the family and marriage. I am the only candidate who stood up to the gay lobby.”

Thomas voted for a bill that would have prevented action against anyone who hid discriminatory behavior behind their religion. Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.

In his ad, he calls the LGBT community bullies against “faith, family and freedom,” but to quote Shakespeare, “methinks thou dost protest too much, queen.” Did I get the quote right?

Thomas is a former Maricopa County county attorney. He was disbarred in 2012 after an FBI investigation into actions in that office. He filed a Petition for Special Action to stop the investigation, which was turned down by the Arizona Supreme Court.

According to the three-judge panel appointed by the Supreme court that disbarred Thomas, he “outrageously exploited power, flagrantly fostered fear, and disgracefully misused the law” by bringing unfounded and malicious criminal and civil charges against political opponents.

On second thought, once he loses his Aug. 26 primary, we hope Thomas remains happily married to his wife, with whom he has four children.


BREAKING NEWS: HERO petition rejected but city will delay implementation

Posted on 04 Aug 2014 at 5:08pm

Parker.AnniseThe Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will not appear on the November ballot, Mayor Annise Parker announced at a press conference today.

“The petition is simply invalid,” said David Feldman, the city’s attorney.

Officials said there were too many irregularities in the petition. Some of the pages weren’t notarized, and too many of the signatures were not registered voters, they said. Feldman said, essentially, that there were so many problems with the petition as it was submitted that the city couldn’t accept it.

Mayor Annise Parker predicted that opponents will take legal action. Because of expected legal action, she will then delay implementation of the ordinance.

The petition was submitted by opponents of the ordinance, which added protections for the LGBT and other communities.

The decision came as proponents of the ordinance questioned the legitimacy and tactics of the petition drive lead by opponents, putting in to doubt whether or not the drive would succeed.

Late last week, an anonymous group published the names of the signatories, calling for transparency and independent reviews of each signature. Among the names found by this reporter are State Rep. Dwayne Bohac and Ryan Patrick, the son of Republican lieutenant governor nominee and state Senator Dan Patrick.

Under state law, petitions submitted to government agencies are public record.


UPDATE: Dallas Fire and Rescue opens internal investigation into allegations that paramedic refused to treat gay man

Posted on 04 Aug 2014 at 4:27pm

Zachary McGinnis after he was hit with glass

An internal investigation into an incident reported by Dallas Voice on Friday, Aug. 1,  is already  underway, according to Dallas Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Lavender, who said the department is interested in speaking to anyone who witnessed the incident.

Zachary McGinnis alleges that after he was hit in the head with a glass at BJ’s on night last week, paramedics refused him treatment because of the blood.

“It hurts that any group feels they’re treated that way, but we hold our people accountable,” Lavendar said. “Our brand is only as good as the last time we serviced you. We aim for top-notch service and nothing less.”

Lavender said DFR recently went through department-wide diversity training.

McGinnis said he got a call from Norman Seals with DFR on Friday to take his statement. McGinnis said Seals told him a paramedic shouldn’t refuse treatment to anyone.

Anyone who witnessed the incident can contact internal affairs at 214-670-7020 or emergency medical services (EMS) at 214-670-4311.

A man identifying himself as David Bell, who said he is a frequent customer at BJ’s, contacted Dallas Voice to say he witnessed the altercation. He said the man who hit McGinnis is the husband of the woman to whom McGinnis was talking, and that the husband hit McGinnis after McGinnis got “too touchy-feely” with the woman.

Bell, who said he has spoken to the club’s assistant manager about the incident, said that the BJ’s bartender had returned McGinnis’ credit card before the altercation took place and that McGinnis had no open bar tab. Bell said that a BJ’s employee escorted McGinnis and the man who hit him out of the bar, and that he — Bell — followed them outside.

Bell said he heard the paramedic say the gloves he was wearing had blood on them and that he didn’t have another pair to put on, and therefore it would be unsafe for him to treat McGinnis.

A friend who was with McGinnis at the time of the incident, and who asked not to be identified in published reports, said he didn’t see what happened inside the club. He said the paramedic told him, “You have blood on you. Don’t come near me.” And he corroborated McGinnis’ version of what happened with the paramedic.

“Zachery’s account was accurate from everything I saw,” the man said.

Ron Adams, owner of BJ’s called Dallas Voice and said the bar does not have McGinnis’ credit card. He said he double checked and there were no open bar tabs that evening.

He also said that if there was a fight in the club and someone was in danger, “we would not push them out on the street.”

“I want everyone to feel safe when they go to BJ’s and have a good time,” Adams said, who said he had heard accounts of the incident but was not at the club that evening.


Third Florida Judge Overturns Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Posted on 04 Aug 2014 at 1:47pm

FloridaBroward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen struck down Florida’s marriage ban today, affirming that the denial of marriage equality to same-sex couples in Florida is unconstitutional, according to the Equality Florida Institute.

The judge’s ruling applies to recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages and overturns Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage in Broward County only. Broward County includes Fort Lauderdale.

This marks the third time in the past few weeks that a Republican-appointed judge in Florida has ruled on the side of marriage equality. Earlier rulings were in Monroe County that includes Key West and Dade County that includes Miami.

“Every win in court brings us closer than we’ve ever been to the freedom to marry in Florida,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “We look forward to the day when all loving, committed couples and their families enjoy the same protections, opportunities and responsibilities of marriage under the law. Every passing day inflicts real hardships on families who are denied the legal protection and dignity that marriage equality provides.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi has been protecting the sanctity of “traditional marriage” by recently marrying her fourth husband and appealing the Dade and Monroe County rulings.


Eureka Springs celebrates Arkansas marriage equality with a wedding reception

Posted on 04 Aug 2014 at 12:17pm

Eureka SpringsMore than 40 restaurants and businesses in Eureka Springs, Ark. contributed to an event described by one local TV station as the first “mass gay wedding reception in the Bible Belt.”

After the Arkansas anti-marriage amendment was declared unconstitutional, about 500 same-sex couples married in the state before a judge placed a stay on the decision.

The reception was held in Eureka Springs to honor those couples that married.

According to another local TV station, the Eureka Springs City Council called on the Arkansas to offer marriage equality.

Michael Walsh put together the event he titled Married to Equality.

“In addition to being the first city in Arkansas where gay people could get married, we’re the first city in Arkansas to throw them a wedding reception,” Walsh told Arkansas Matters.


Vargas addresses immigration issues at Cathedral of Hope

Posted on 02 Aug 2014 at 4:22pm

Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and a panel of eight additional speakers addressed immigration issues with Hope for Peace & Justice on Saturday afternoon at Cathedral of Hope.

“Nothing can be changed until it’s fixed,” Vargas told the audience he learned from James Baldwin. He said that coincidentally, it was Baldwin’s 90th birthday.

Vargas said much of the leadership of the immigration movement was LGBT and that the immigration movement has co-opted the term coming out as a way to describe disclosing one’s immigration status to others.

Rainbow LULAC President Juan Contreras told the group it’s estimated there are 11.7 million undocumented people in the U.S. right now. Of those, about 267,000 are LGBT adults. As many as 15,000 to 50,000 are transgender.

Vargas said before coming out for the second time, as undocumented, he considered returning to his native Philippines.

“But that would have been the cowardly thing to do,” he said.

He talked about his recent experience in McAllen where he was filming in an immigration detention center and was arrested before leaving the city. He ended up sharing space with some of the people he had been there to document.

“How many of you have been to the Rio Grande Valley,” he asked. “If you’re undocumented, don’t go.”

Brent Wilkes, national executive director of LULAC, came from D.C. to participate in the panel discussion. He said despite a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives the day before to limit the president’s power to authorize deferred action, as the president did in his executive order known as DACA, and reform legislation getting nowhere in the House since the 2012 election, he’s still hopeful some form of immigration reform will pass before the end of the session.


Dallas man attacked at BJs and denied help by paramedic

Posted on 01 Aug 2014 at 1:54pm

Zachary McGinnis shows where he was cut when a man hit him in the head with a glass at BJ’s on Tuesday.

A Dallas paramedic allegedly refused to treat a gay man at BJ’s NXS! this week after the man was hit in the head with a glass by another patron.

Zachary Taylor McGinnis said he was at the gay bar on Fitzhugh Avenue on Tuesday evening, July 29. He said he was speaking to a woman who was apparently with a man standing on her other side when the man suddenly hit him in the head with a glass, grabbed the woman and stormed out.

McGinnis said he and a friend followed the couple outside and were there when Dallas Fire and Rescue personnel arrived. Paramedics in Dallas Fire Department Truck 8 responded to the 911 call.

“The [paramedic] gets out, walks around the truck, saw my bleeding head, saw the other patrons outside and said, ‘I’m not treating him,’” McGinnis said.

McGinnis’ friend said, “Excuse me?” And the paramedic repeated, “I’m not treating him.”

“Why?” McGinnis asked.

“You have blood on you,” the paramedic said.

“Aren’t you a paramedic?” McGinnis’ friend asked.

“You need to step back,” the paramedic said.

Police also responded to the scene, apparently in response to a call for assistance by the paramedic.

A female paramedic gave McGinnis gauze and a bandage and is not part of his complaint.

When police and paramedics left, McGinnis said he tried to go back into BJ’s to close his bar tab. Management wouldn’t allow him back in and, he said, he still hasn’t retrieved his credit card.

McGinnis spoke to Dallas police LGBT liaison Laura Martin, who directed him to fire department liaison Sherry Durant. Martin said she spoke to Durant, who said she will guide McGinnis through the complaint process. But as of Friday noon, Durant has not returned repeated calls from Dallas Voice or calls from McGinnis.

Dallas Voice has also been unable to contact anyone from BJ’s NXS! for comment.

Dallas Voice will continue to follow developments in this situation. Watch for updates as we get more information.


Dallas Parks and Rec Department holding public meetings on master plan

Posted on 01 Aug 2014 at 11:36am

If you care about the future of Dallas’ recreational programs and facilities — parks and such — then you will want to pay attention to the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department’s schedule for five upcoming community meetings at which folks have a chance to hear what the city has planned and to offer input.Screen shot 2014-08-01 at 11.34.34 AM

The meetings are the first phase of the city’s effort to create a “recreation master plan” and update its “overall comprehensive strategy known as the Renaissance Plan,” according to a press release from the city.

The meetings all start at 6 p.m. The schedule is:

• Tuesday, Aug. 5, at Janie C. Turner Recreation Center, 6424 Elam (214-670-8277), and at Campbell Green Recreation Center, 16600 Parkhill Drive (214-670-6314).

• Wednesday, Aug. 6, at Grauwyler Recreation Center, 7780 Harry Hines Blvd. (214-670-6302) and Kiest Recreation Center, 3080 S. Hampton (214-670-1918).

• Thursday, Aug. 7, at Harry Stone Recreation Center, 2403 Millmar (214-670-0949).

Park and reception staff will lead the meetings and community members — individuals and groups — will have a chance to share comments, ask questions about the strategic planning process and hear a summary of the department’s progress toward the Renaissance Plan.

When it is finished, city officials said the master plan will be the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department’s first all-inclusive blueprint specifically addressing changing trends in municipal recreation programs, facilities and leisure opportunities.

The Renaissance Plan was implemented in 2002.

Dallas Parks and Recreation is one of the country’s largest urban park systems. The department cares for almost 24,000 land and water acres that include 379 parks, 100 trail miles, athletic fields and natural areas. It manages and operates 39 recreation centers, six golf courses, six tennis centers, Bahama Beach Waterpark and Fair Park.


Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay law

Posted on 01 Aug 2014 at 10:41am

Welcome to Uganda

A court in Uganda declared its anti-gay law unconstitutional.

The “death to gays” law that was originally proposed didn’t pass but the law enacted provided for jail terms of up to life for those convicted of engaging in gay sex.

Ugandan LGBT rights advocates are calling this ruling a “step forward,” and a win for Ugandan rule of law.

The ruling invalidated the law because the Parliament lacked a quorum during the session in which it passed, according to Associate Press. The ruling can be appealed to the Supreme Court or the law can be passed again in a legal session of Parliament.


LGBT Houston group posts anti-HERO petitioners’ names and addreses online

Posted on 31 Jul 2014 at 4:11pm

HERO petitionThe Houston GLBT Political Caucus posted copies of the petition asking for a recall of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance. The petition includes the names and addresses of 50,000 people.

Only 25,000 signatures were needed to force the issue onto the ballot. Signatures are still being verified, but there will probably be enough to force a vote. Mayor Annise Parker, who championed the ordinance, said she will have it placed on the November ballot if the city secretary certifies the vote.

GLBT Political Caucus President Noel Freeman encouraged people to look through signatures on the petition to see if their names were added fraudulently.

Those petitioning the city said the organization posted the names and addresses as a form of intimidation and to get people fired from their jobs.

In a KHOU-TV report, one supporter of the ordinance found irony in this.

“I just find it incredibly ironic that a group whose M.O. was to track down gay people outside of bars and try to get them fired from their jobs for decades are now suddenly worried about people losing their jobs,” said Kristen Capps.