BREAKING NEWS: Robin Williams is dead

Posted on 11 Aug 2014 at 6:44pm

Nathan Lane, Robin Williams, Gene Hackman and Diane Wiest in The Birdcage.

Robin Williams, 63, is dead of an apparent suicide. Marin County Sheriff’s Office officials have confirmed  that the Oscar-winning actor was found just before noon at his home in Tiburon in Northern California.

TMZ reports that Williams is believed to have died of asphyxia, and notes that he had recently gone into rehab to “focus on his sobriety.” Williams battled alcohol and drug addiction in the 1980s but had been sober for 20 years.

Los Angeles Times reports note that Williams rose to fame in the 1980s as an alien wearing suspenders in the TV sitcom Mork and Mindy and was named the “funniest man alive” in 1997 by Entertainment Weekly. But it was his serious roles that won him critical acclaim: He won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance as Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting in 1997 and was nominated for Oscars for his roles in The Fisher King in 1991, Dead Poets Society in 1989 and Good Morning, Vietnam in 1987.

LGBT fans also remember him for his role as Nathan Lane’s husband in The Birdcage in 1996 and a divorced father who dons old lady drag to get to spend time with his kids in Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993.

Susan Schneider, Williams’ wife, told TMZ: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.  I am utterly heartbroken.”


This week in marriage equality … with a few pointed opinions thrown in

Posted on 11 Aug 2014 at 5:01pm


Florida is doing marriage equality New Mexico-style — one county at a time. Where New Mexico was a hodgepodge of counties across the state, Florida is working its way up from the bottom. First a Monroe County (The Florida Keys) court overturned the marriage law. Then it was Miami-Dade. Next Broward County (Fort Lauderdale). Most recently, Palm Beach County, the next county up the coast from Broward.

A stay was placed on the judges’ decisions, so marriages have not begun in that state.

Tallahassee and Tampa are expected to rule next.

Here’s a suggestion for judges placing stays on their rulings, delaying the implementation of equality. If it’s OK for gay people to wait until the Supreme Court rules, it’s OK for everyone to wait. If you must place a stay on the state’s marriage law, stay the entire law and ban everyone — yes, everyone — from marrying in your state until the Supreme Court weighs in. If it’s OK for gays and lesbians to delay 1,000+ rights conferred with marriage, it’s OK for some straight people to experience that delay as well. Is that a little spiteful? No, that’s equality.

The state court in Tallahassee may rule that there’s no need to stay the lower court rulings and those counties where couples have sued, same-sex couples be able to begin marrying.



One couple in Oklahoma ran out of time waiting for the Supreme Court to rule.

Jerry Custer and Kim Woodward planned to marry until Woodward passed away in late July following complications from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH (unrelated to our new old editor).

The couple was together for 20 years.

Shortly before Woodward passed away, a federal judge in Oklahoma struck down the state’s ban on marriage equality. The couple was planning on marrying but the decision was stayed, making it impossible for them to legally commit before Woodward died. After spending so much of their lives together, Custer said that one of the hardest things was dealing with the death certificate: “I lived here with him for 20 years. On relationship, I had to put down: friend.”



On Friday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Bostic v. Schaefer, the case challenging Virginia’s ban on marriage equality.

“I believe this case will prove compelling for the court because of the stringent, discriminatory nature of Virginia’s marriage ban, the range of critical questions presented, the clear legal standing of the parties, and Virginia’s historic role in 1967’s Loving case ending bans on interracial marriage. Virginia got that case wrong. Now, we have a chance to get it right, and to help extend to all Americans the right to marry the person they love,” Herring said in a statement.

Although Herring did not defend the law in court, he did seek a stay, indicating there could be harm or confusion if couples are allowed to marry before the Supreme Court rules. If he believes this, then all marriages in the state should have been suspended.



Pennsylvania became a marriage equality state earlier this year when a district court declared the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional and the governor and attorney general agreed to abide by the court’s ruling. No, everything doesn’t need to go to the Supreme Court.

In Bloomsburg, Penn., W.W. Bridal Boutique refused to help a lesbian couple preparing for their wedding, saying that they do not work with same-sex couples. The shop, which has faced public scrutiny, stood by their statement, saying: “We feel we have to answer to God for what we do. And providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God’s law.” The Bloomsburg City Council is meeting today to discuss the incident and according to ThinkProgress, “possibly consider legislation that will will protect LGBT residents in the future.”

We agree these two women shouldn’t force this company to take thousands of dollars from them for their dresses. This couple should find a store that will share their joy — a store that will serve their customers. It’s nice to know the bigots in Bloomsburg have a place to shop.


Uplift Education introduces new inclusive anti-bullying policy

Posted on 11 Aug 2014 at 2:46pm

60144_470172559670970_1080250106_nUplift Education, a network of 14 charter schools across North Texas, began the new school year with a new robust anti-bullying policy drafted in collaboration with Fairness Fort Worth and the Resource Center Dallas. David Mack Henderson, president of Fairness Fort Worth, wrote on Facebook:

When school started at the 14 campuses of Uplift Education’s charter schools across North Texas last week, the over 12,000 students were greeted with a new, fully inclusive anti-bullying policy that includes protections against acts “motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic such as…sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.” That policy was developed with the input of Fairness Fort Worth and Resource Center. Officials from both groups met with senior leadership of Uplift in the spring of 2012, proactively suggesting that the schools adopt a policy that would specifically protect LGBTQ and other students. Uplift developed a draft policy last fall, and turned to Fairness Fort Worth and the Center for additional input and review. The new policy was adopted by the Uplift board this spring and went into effect at the beginning of the school year.

Check out this coming week’s edition of the Voice for more information on the policy.


Sisters not welcome at Gay Games in Cleveland

Posted on 11 Aug 2014 at 1:05pm

Sister Lawna Jocqui

Sister Lawna Jocqui of the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had tickets for the opening ceremony of the Gay Games in Cleveland, but Lawna says police refused to allow her and other sisters to enter the arena. The games are held every four years and run through Aug. 16.

Dallas Voice is following up on the story and will be contacting officials with the Cleveland PD, the city of Cleveland and the Gay Games. But for now, here is Sister Lawna’s account of what happened:

“There have apparently been some ‘ideas’ as to how the opening ceremonies for Gay Games 9 in Cleveland should be portrayed to the spectators and various other visitors to the city. I wasn’t aware of this until I arrived Wednesday night.

“I flew up early this week so I could visit my fellow Sisters and prepare for the opening ceremonies at Q Arena, as well as the Exequatur Weekend Celebration. Originally the Sisters were supposed to greet and take part in the opening ceremonies, and as I understand, those organizing and running the games — the city, Olympic officials and otherwise — were hesitant to allow any form of drag/crossdressing as part of the event.

“Perhaps it was a security measure? Luckily they canceled their plans on dress code enforcement for athletes and spectators. I also noticed they aren’t too big on calling it the Gay Games here in Cleveland. It’s referred to as ‘GG9′ or simply ‘The Games.’

“I asked a local why that is, and was informed the city of Cleveland isn’t too keen on the word ‘gay.’ I’m sure they’re just prepping their vocabulary for the Republican National Convention to be held here in 2016. Sister Rachel of Cleveland and I had 2 tickets to go in to at least watch the opening ceremony last night [Sunday, Aug. 10], so a group of the Cleveland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Sister Medusa, a member of the Seattle house, and myself representing the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence arrived at the sidewalk out front of Q Arena in downtown.

“We were immediately greeted by smiles from HRC, asking us to come up and take pics with them and share some hugs and laughs. We stayed with HRC as they passed out flags, literature and tote bags, greeted attendees, passed out our condoms to promote safe sex, and took photos with all those who came to enjoy the games.

“We’re Sisters. It’s what we’ve done for 35 years. We spread joy, expiate stigmatic guilt and promote safe sex and equal rights for all. It’s our mission!

“We were well received by the public as well as the Cleveland Police Department, many of whom stopped to shake our hands and even pose for pictures with us. Shortly after entry to the arena began, a lieutenant with Cleveland PD came to us and told us we were not allowed on Q Arena Property and advised us to leave. Even though Sister Rachel and I had tickets to not only be on the sidewalk in front of the arena, but to also be inside during the opening ceremonies, we were told we would need to go completely across the street in front of a closed building on another block.

“Two honor guards assisting us went back to speak to someone and the same lieutenant immediately intercepted them and told them he wasn’t going to tell them again to leave. They informed him they were not doing anything wrong and he yelled at them, ‘I don’t know who you are. You all fucking look alike! Go across the street!’

“Even though Sister Rachel and I had two pre-purchased tickets, we were not permitted near the arena. Later we were informed by the angry lieutenant that HRC had a contract with exclusive rights to be the only organization near the arena or passing anything out. I spoke to several HRC volunteers and they said they were not aware of such a contract, and it sounded like BS to them on the part of that particular law enforcement representative.

“After the games, many athletes and spectators asked, ‘Why didn’t the Sisters wall with us?’ and ‘Why weren’t the Sisters part of the ceremony?’ We’d simply reply that the Gay Games and the city of Cleveland didn’t want the Sisters.

“We stayed across the street, gave out condoms, hugs and smiles to all who passed by and continued our mission with our heads held high, even though we were not welcomed near the stadium. It’s not about pomp and circumstance, flags, banners and spotlights. It’s about helping people and loving your fellow humans. We accomplished that last night, therefore I view it as a successful evening, even though it didn’t go as planned.”


2nd West Nile case confirmed in Dallas

Posted on 11 Aug 2014 at 12:53pm

Dallas County Health and Human Services has confirmed a second case of West Nile Virus in a human in the city for the 2014 season. City officials are not released the patient’s name, for privacy reasons, but did say that the person lived in the 75238 zip code.Mosquito_rdax_400x277

The 75238 zip code area is in the northeast part of Dallas, bordered primarily by East Northwest Highway, Skillman Street, Forest Lane and Jupiter Road.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there have been 15 confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in humans this year. Of those, eight have been West Nile fever, and seven have been the more severe West Nile neuroinvasive disease. Both of the Dallas County cases have been West Nile fever.

There has been one confirmed case of West Nile fever this year in each of the following counties: Brazoria, Ellis, Parker, Tarrant and Travis. Both Galeveston County and Liberty County have confirmed one case each of neuroinvasive West Nile.

Montgomery County, north of Houston and just west of Lake Conroe, has confirmed five cases of neuroinvasive West Nile and one case of West Nile fever this year.

DSHS recorded 183 human cases of West Nile Virus last year. Of those, 113 were the more severe neuroinvasive West Nile. The virus killed 14 people in Texas in 2013.

The city of Dallas protocol calls for targeted ground spraying in areas where West Nile has been confirmed in mosquitoes and in areas where trapping has indicated a significant increase in the number of mosquitoes with the potential to carry the virus.

City officials said that existing traps near where the infected person lives have not tested positive for West Nile. Still, they said, the city will expand surveillance and place an additional trap near the location in an effort to get more information.

Screen shot 2014-08-11 at 12.49.56 PM

75238 Zip Code

According to a press release from the city: “The city’s mosquito control program is continually evolving to address the threat of the West Nile Virus. Public information and outreach is extensive, using television, radio, billboards, brochures and community meetings. A webpage at is dedicated to WNV information, including links to videos developed to educate the public on WNV prevention.

“Additionally, the city is proactively identifying sources of mosquito breeding by responding to 3-1-1 standing water, stagnant pools and water conservation complaints. However, it is important that residents do their part by taking the necessary precautions to avoid exposure to the virus.”

The best defense against contracting West Nile is not get bitten by a mosquito. And city and state health officials urge everyone to reduce outdoor activity during the evening and nighttime hours, and when you are outside, cover your arms and legs and use a mosquito repellent.

The best way to keep from getting bitten by a mosquito is to keep the little buggers from breeding in the first place. Get rid of standing water in places like dirty swimming pools, stagnant ponds, pet watering dishes, birdbaths, potted plants, old tires, empty containers, toys and clogged rain gutters and French drains. Get rid of the standing water and do it fast, because mosquitoes can grow from egg to adult in as little as seven days.

If you see standing water that you are unable to get rid of yourself , call 3-1-1 to report it to city officials. For more information on mosquito control, visit



Ask Lambda Legal: The Executive Order and You

Posted on 11 Aug 2014 at 12:50pm

A few details may have gotten lost in all the hoopla surrounding the executive orders President Obama signed last month prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So here’s some info from Lambda Legal that may help clear up some questions:

By Greg Nevins, counsel for Lambda Legal

Question: I work for a local social service agency and read about President Obama’s executive order protecting LGBT workers. What does this mean for me?

Answer: President Obama’s historic executive order banning employment discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors and protecting transgender federal government employees was a needed step towards equality.

The executive order will provide explicit protection against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination for millions of hard-working, tax-paying Americans, and Lambda Legal applauds President Obama for taking this important action.

The order is very important because federal statutes concerning job discrimination don’t explicitly use the words “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” This leaves vulnerable to discrimination those workers in states that don’t provide separate legal protections.

With a stroke of his pen, the president changed the legal landscape for employees of federal contractors, especially those in states without LGBT-specific protections, but also for those workers in states that already have good non-discrimination statutes, because, to use a football analogy, discrimination now doesn’t result in just a penalty but may get a contractor tossed out of the game.

One of the major advancements of equality contained in the executive order is that it also will make explicit the protection against gender identity discrimination for federal government employees. This will clarify that executive branch policies are consistent with federal court decisions and the position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Clarity and consistency about non-discrimination requirements are crucial. It is important that employees have a policy and remedy in place that protects them when they endure discrimination. But what we all really want is for the discrimination not to occur in the first place, and the executive order’s clear language furthers that goal.

Unfortunately, the order does not protect all employees of private companies and businesses, and explicit protections for LGBT workers in the private sector vary from state to state. We have increasing recognition and obvious momentum towards nationwide workplace fairness, but there is still a ways to go.

Over the last several years, the EEOC has ruled that employees alleging anti-LGBT discrimination had legitimate Title VII sex discrimination claims; similar rulings have come from federal district courts in cases involving lesbian or gay workers, and from numerous federal district and appellate courts in cases brought by transgender workers.

Additionally, 18 states, the District of Columbia, and more than  200 jurisdictions — from small towns to large cities — have inclusive non-discrimination laws that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

In the meantime, we are deeply grateful to President Obama for continuing his administration’s progress toward full equality for LGBT workers, and Lambda Legal will continue to fight to expand protections for LGBT employees across the country.

If you have any questions, or feel you have been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk by calling 1-866-542-8336 go online to


Memorial service for Benny Longoria will be held Saturday

Posted on 08 Aug 2014 at 4:24pm


Family members confirmed Friday, Aug. 8, that they will go ahead with a planned memorial service for Benny Longoria, a gay man found dead in his apartment on June 20. Longoria’s family members are pushing for Tulsa police to investigate his death, but police have said he died of natural causes and no investigation is necessary.

Benny Longoria’s sister, Elvia Longoria of Dallas, said the memorial will be held at 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, at Compadres Mexican Grill, 7104 Sheridan Rd., Tulsa, Okla., 74133.

Elvia Longoria also said that her family on Friday filed a complaint with the state medical board against Deputy Chief Medical Examiner John Latner, M.D., and Benny’s physician, Dr. Frances Haas, over statements concerning a certificate of death for Benny Longoria. The family said the death certificate was never signed, and that Dr. Haas had told Elvia Longoria and C.d. Kirven, a Dallas activist helping the family in their search for answers, that she had not and would not sign the death certificate because she did not see Benny’s body after he died.

The family has also filed a complaint with the Department of Justice alleging discrimination against Benny Longoria in regards to the investigation into his death because he had HIV. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits HIV-related discrimination. And the family has filed an internal affairs complaint regarding with Capt. Richard Alexander and Police Chief Chuck Jordan with the Tulsa Police Department. Elvia Longoria also said that any further inquiries from the press should be directed to Kirven, who will be acting as a spokesperson for the family.

Elvia Longoria told Dallas Voice Friday in a written statement: “My family, my brother Benny and C.d. Kirven have been mistreated by Tulsa police. My brother should have been treated with respect and his memory honored, but instead we have needed the help of Adam Merdrano and C.d. Kirven to get simple answers about the circumstances around my brother’s death.

“We are devastated by his loss and by the way he was treated. This is about honoring my little brother and his family making sure the world knows Benny was not alone. He was beloved and we will fight to find out what happen to him on June 20, 2014, because there is no official or signed records — only unsigned draft copies. Thank you and we hope the LGBT community comes out to support us at his memorial,” she said.

Tulsa police have denied that the case was mishandled and have accused Kirven of lying in her statements to Dallas Voice and other media outlets. Police have also disputed the family’s claim there is no signed death certificate.


Police investigating break in at Youth First

Posted on 08 Aug 2014 at 1:58pm
Youth First

Youth First after an overnight break in. (Photo courtesy of Resource Center)

A break in occurred at Youth First on Harry Hines Boulevard overnight, which Resource Center personnel discovered this morning.

Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said they discovered the burglary on Friday morning. He said it took place after hours Thursday night, after all youth had left the building.

The door to Youth First program director Mike Cruz’s door was kicked open. A karaoke machine, stereo system and several gaming systems were taken.

“It looks like when the Grinch stole Christmas,” McDonnell said.

He said when he was over at the facility earlier today, police were still dusting for fingerprints, and they’re still totaling up what was taken. They’re also looking into what will be covered by insurance and how large the deductible is.

“The computers appear intact,” he said.

Anyone with information should contact Det. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison with the Dallas Police Department. Her number is 214-490-0541.

As a side note from Dallas Voice, anyone with Microsoft, a retailer or any or any other company or donor who would like to help Youth First replace what was taken may contact Cameron Hernholm at Resource Center at 214-528-0144.


HERO opponents granted temporary restraining order

Posted on 08 Aug 2014 at 9:41am

Houston-Mayor-Annise-ParkerOpponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance won a small victory in a district court yesterday evening when a district judge granted them a temporary restraining order delaying implementation of the ordinance.

“[U.S. District Judge Gray Miller's] ruling was evidence of the abject lack of any credible legal basis for City Attorney David Feldman’s motion, leaving it clear that it was indeed just a delay tactic that did not work,” said the opposition group No UNEqual Rights Houston in a statement.

Mayor Annise Parker  previously announced that the city would delay the ordinance’s implementation.

Woodfill v. Parker was filed in the 152nd District Court shortly after the city rejected the opponents petitions calling for a November ballot referendum. Attorneys with the city of Houston must appear before the court on August 15 and make their case for why the order should be vacated.

The Equal Rights Houston campaign in a statement denounced the ruling. “It is unfortunate that the opponents of equal rights have taken this issue to the courts after first losing at City Council … [we are] confident the court will uphold the city of Houston’s decision that the repeal signatures were not collected in the clearly defined process.  The bottom line is that this state court decision is still just a TRO, and not a final ruling on the merits.”



UPDATE: Questions continue in death of Benny Longoria

Posted on 07 Aug 2014 at 9:43pm
Benny Longoria

Benny Longoria

Dallas activist C.d. Kirven and Elvia Longoria, the sister of Benny Longoria who was found dead in his Tulsa apartment on June 20, said today that they still want Tulsa police to investigate Benny Longoria’s death, even though police say the man died of natural causes and no investigation is necessary.

Elvia Longoria said that she and her family didn’t find out until a month later that her brother had died. She said she and one of her sisters went to Tulsa in July after learning in a phone call that Benny had died the previous month. She said that she and her sister “got different stories” from the manager of the apartment complex where Benny lived and from police, and that police officers they talked to at the time were rude and disrespectful and refused to consider any further investigation.

Elvia Longoria said that her brother’s possessions were apparently destroyed by a cleaning crew brought in to clean the apartment, and that cellphone and wallet remain unaccounted for. She also said his body was cremated without the family’s permission, and that cremation goes against the family’s religious beliefs.

Elivia Longoria said she had contacted Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano, a longtime family friend, for help in getting answers, and that Medrano had connected her with Kirven who agreed to help. Kirven gave Dallas Voice an account of the family’s efforts, which was posted on this blog on Tuesday, Aug. 5. That blog has been removed, at least temporarily, after Elvia Longoria said Thursday morning that information included in it indicating that a crew from the police department had cleaned out the apartment and destroyed her brother’s belongings was incorrect.

She said that the apartment manager said that a “crime scene cleaning crew” had cleaned the apartment and removed and destroyed the furnishings and other belongings, but that the apartment had been cleaned by a company, hired by the apartment complex, that specializes in cleaning up crime scenes, not by police personnel.

Kirven and Elvia Longoria have also said that the death certificate — of which Dallas Voice has a copy — was never signed by a doctor and that Benny Longoria’s attending physician, Dr. Frances Haas, told them on Wednesday that she had never signed a death certificate and “never would sign it.” The “draft” copy of the death certificate given to Elvia Longoria lists her brother’s cause of death as “complications from chronic ethanol abuse” with hypertension and HIV/AIDS as contributing factors.

Tulsa police have said that Kirven has lied about events that have happened, and have said they have a death certificate signed by Benny Longoria’s attending physician.

Medrano issued a written statement late Wednesday, Aug. 6, saying: “My thoughts and prayers are with the Longoria family as they say good-bye to Benny Longoria. … My heart is filled with sadness as the family struggles to find answers and grapple with the loss of their beloved brother … .”

Medrano’s statement also includes information on a memorial service that had been planned for Saturday, Aug. 9, at a Tulsa restaurant where Benny Longoria once worked. Elvia Longoria said Thursday morning, however, that the family will likely cancel the planned service.

Dallas Voice will continue to follow this story, and will update this post as more information becomes available.