Body found in Turtle Creek identified

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 12:13pm

CrimeTapeSmallPolice released the identity of a white male found dead in Turtle Creek on Monday, Nov. 3, as Robert Neal Letbetter. He was born Jan. 25, 1978. Next of kin has been notified.

Cause of death is still listed as unexplained and is still being investigated.


Judge Affirms the Freedom to Marry in Missouri

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 11:13am


Couples in St. Louis began getting married after U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith ruled this morning, Nov. 7, that denying marriage for same-sex couples in Missouri is unconstitutional. County clerks in other counties are refusing to issue marriage licenses claiming the ruling applies only to St. Louis.

The ruling comes just two days after St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison also declared Missouri’s ban unconstitutional, and a month after a state ruling which found that Missouri must respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere.

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry and Kansas City native, released the following statement:

“Today’s victory in Missouri marks the third consecutive win in the ‘Show Me’ state in just over a month, with all three judges affirming that marriage discrimination is unconstitutional. We encourage Attorney General Chris Koster not to appeal the ruling so that Missouri becomes the next state where loving and committed couples can share in the joy and dignity of marriage. Today’s ruling adds to the powerful momentum of victories from a bipartisan array of federal and state judges as we work to secure the freedom to marry nationwide.”

As of last month, a majority of Americans now live in a freedom to marry state. Once the pro-marriage rulings from the 4th, 7th, 9th, and 10th Circuits are fully implemented, same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry in 35 states plus the District of Columbia, representing nearly two-thirds of the American people.

In Kansas, a marriage ruling has been stayed until Monday to allow the state to file its appeal. Montana and South Carolina are the only states in their circuits that have not enacted marriage equality but are expected to comply with court rulings soon.


Latvian foreign minister comes out

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 10:44am

Edgars Rinkevics

For the first time, an official of a former Soviet republic has come out as gay.

In a tweet, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics wrote, “I Proudly Announce I Am Gay.”

Latvia held parliamentary elections in October and Rinkevics was the subject of a whispering campaign about his sexuality. Despite that, he easily won re-election.

In Latvia, as in most of Eastern Europe, marriage equality remains illegal.

Rinkevics’ announcement was “historic for the whole post-Soviet bloc because its quite homophobic,” said Kristine Garina, head of a Latvian LGBT rights group. “He’s the first such high politician in the post-Soviet space that has come out.”


Elton John AIDS Foundation funds transgender HIV project

Posted on 07 Nov 2014 at 10:34am

AIDS ribbonElton John AIDS Foundation and Transgender Law Center will partner for a one year pilot program to identify the structural inequities that drive high rates of HIV incidents in transgender communities.

The Transgender Law Center will use the funds to form a national advisory board of eight to ten trans people living with HIV, with a strong focus on trans women of color. The advisory board will assist in a systems gap assessment, identify best and promising practices in community response to HIV and issue recommendations.

“With the support of the advisory board, Transgender Law Center will engage the community meaningfully in the examination of how systemic barriers and social conditions  (such as discrimination, transphobia, criminalization and violence) drive the HIV epidemic and negatively impact health outcomes.” said Cecilia Chung, Senior Strategist of Transgender Law Center. “This will also give us an opportunity to support and strengthen the leadership of some of the most vulnerable members in the transgender community.”


6th Circuit upholds marriage discrimination

Posted on 06 Nov 2014 at 6:47pm

Ruling is first at appellate level to go against equality, establishes need to Supreme Court ruling


Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service


In a decision that will compel the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of marriage equality bans, a panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, Nov. 6, that it is not unconstitutional for a state to ban marriage licenses for same-sex couples or refuse to recognize marriage licenses such couples obtain from other states.

It is the first federal appeals court to make such a ruling, and this one reversed six lower court rulings in four states, setting it on a direct path to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many court observers believe they know how the Supreme Court will rule: that such bans are unconstitutional. That’s because on Oct. 6, there were not even four justices willing to hear appeals in defense of such bans. And the 40-page Sixth Circuit panel decision now creates a conflict among the circuits, essentially compelling the Supreme Court to make a definitive ruling on the issue.

The 2-to-1 decision from the Sixth Circuit was what many had also predicted. The two Republican appointees — both appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush — upheld the state bans. The one Democratic appointee — a Clinton choice — voted in dissent.

Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey Sutton acknowledged the futility of his ruling in its second sentence: “From the vantage point of 2014, it would now seem, the question is not whether American law will allow gay couples to marry; it is when and how that will happen.”

But, echoing statements he made during oral argument in August, Sutton said the approval of same-sex marriage should be “in the hands of state voters” and that the Supreme Court’s 1972 summary dismissal of Minnesota gay couple’s appeal (in Baker v. Nelson) still binds lower courts to uphold the bans by other states.

“Respect for democratic control over this traditional area of state expertise ensures that ‘a statewide deliberative process that enable[s] its citizens to discuss and weigh arguments for and against same-sex marriage’ can have free and reasonable rein.”

As for licenses granted by other states, Sutton said, “States have always decided for themselves when to yield to laws of other states.”

Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal’s director of constitutional litigation, said her group is “extremely disappointed” and that the decision “highlights the need for the U. S. Supreme Court to right this injustice.”

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said the decision was “compeletly out of step with the Supreme Court’s clear signal last month” and “out of step with the majority of the American people.”

He also said there are at least two rational reasons for limiting marriage to heterosexual couples: One is that government “got into the business of defining marriage … to regulate sex, most especially the intended and unintended effects of male-female intercourse.”

“It is not society’s laws or for that matter any one religion’s laws, but nature’s laws [that men and women complement each other biologically], that created the policy imperative,” wrote Sutton.

“If it is constitutionally irrational to stand by the man-woman definition of marriage, it must be constitutionally irrational to stand by the monogamous definition of marriage,” Sutton wrote later in the decision.

The other reason, Sutton said, is “a state might wish to wait and see before changing a norm that our society [like all others] has accepted for centuries.” Noting that Michigan voters approved its ban just one year after same-sex marriage became possible in Massachusetts, Sutton said, “A state still assessing how this has worked, whether in 2004 or 2014, is not showing irrationality, just a sense of stability and an interest in seeing how the new definition has worked elsewhere.”

While Sutton acknowledged that there are costs to same-sex couples of denying them the right to vote, that harm “demands an answer — but from elected legislators, not life-tenured judges.”

He saw no evidence that the bans were born of animus but, rather, were motivated by “fear that the courts would seize control over an issue that people of good faith care deeply about.”

“[T]he institution of marriage arose independently of [the] record of discrimination” against gays, wrote Sutton.

Oddly, Sutton’s ruling acknowledged only 19 states and the District of Columbia as having allowed same-sex couples to marry. He did not mention that another nine states began issuing licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals from the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits.

Sutton said the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor, striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, had no impact on the panel majority’s ruling in the Sixth Circuit cases. He said Windsor hinged on DOMA’s “unprecedented intrusion into the states’ authority over domestic relations.”

Sutton said the Supreme Court’s action in denying review of the seven appeals it refused in October expressed no opinion on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage.

“A decision not to decide is a decision not to decide,” wrote Sutton.

In dissent, Judge Martha Daughtery derided the majority opinion, saying it “wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional questions” and instead occupies itself with the question of “who should decide” and exhibiting a “reverence for ‘proceeding with caution’.”

“If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate,” wrote Daughtery, “our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams.”

The Sixth Circuit decision and dissent was addressed in federal district court rulings in six cases involving state bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee: DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), Obergefell v. Hodges and Henry v. Hodges (Ohio), Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear (Kentucky), and Tanco v. Haslam (Tennessee).

The ruling represents the marriage equality movement’s second court loss since 2012 when a federal judge in Nevada ruled against same-sex couples in Sevcik v. Sandoval. The first loss was from a federal district court judge in Louisiana in Robicheaux v. Caldwell on Sept. 3.

The Fifth Circuit announced on Oct. 28 that it would hear oral arguments in the Louisiana case and one from Texas on Jan. 5.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


6th Circuit upholds discrimination

Posted on 06 Nov 2014 at 3:44pm

Marriage_Equality_MapThe 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld discrimination in cases affecting Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.

This creates the split in decisions that forces the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Look for updates when the decisions are released.



Resource Center receives $50,000 Hoblitzelle Foundation grant to improve technology

Posted on 06 Nov 2014 at 12:59pm

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox

As an investment in the agency’s future capacity to provide programs and services to the LGBT community and people affected by HIV/AIDS, Resource Center has received a $50,000 grant from the Hoblitzelle Foundation to upgrade and modernize its computer servers.

“In order to successfully serve the LGBT communities of North Texas and people affected by HIV, the Center must provide staff with the tools necessary to efficiently and effectively carry out their jobs,” said Center CEO Cece Cox. “We are grateful to the Hoblitzelle Foundation for their support of the Center.”

Rafael Anchia, a member of the Hoblitzelle Foundation’s board of directors, added, “Resource Center truly makes life better for thousands of people in the greater Dallas area. The Foundation is proud to make this investment in the Center’s future.”

The Center plans to install a cloud-based hosted server that includes ample hard drive space, memory and ease of expandability. This will save the Center over $100,000 in capital expenditures, which in turn can be redirected to programs for LGBT youth, seniors and families as well as people living with HIV.

The server will also accommodate future growth as the Center expands its programming in a new community center, to be built near the intersection of Cedar Springs and Inwood. The Hoblitzelle Foundation has previously donated to the Center’s capital campaign. Groundbreaking for the new facility is scheduled for early 2015.


BREAKING: Restraining order bars Houston from offering equal benefits

Posted on 05 Nov 2014 at 4:18pm

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

A district judge has ordered Houston to stop offering same-sex benefits to its employees. The order, found here, states that the city cannot issue benefits under the city’s charter and Family Penal Code because same-sex couples are not formally recognized by Texas.

“The city is preparing an immediate appeal.  Once that appeal is filed, today’s ruling will be stayed and a previous order issued at the federal court level allowing the city to implement same sex spousal benefits will continue in effect.  As a result, today’s action will have no impact on the status quo,” city spokeswoman Janice Evans said in a statement.

Follow the Voice for more information.


BREAKING: Judge rules Missouri gay marriage ban unconstitutional

Posted on 05 Nov 2014 at 3:54pm

rainbow-flagThe AP reports Missouri’s ban on same-sex marriage ban has been ruled unconstitutional.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison issued the ruling today, Wednesday, Nov. 5, after hearing arguments on Sept. 29.

After the city of St. Louis issued marriage licenses in June to four same-sex couples, Assistant Attorney General Jeremiah Morgan defended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert countered that the existing law treats same-sex couples as “second-class citizens.”

“Today’s ruling adds to the powerful momentum of victories from a bipartisan array of federal and state judges as we work to secure the freedom to marry nationwide,” Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement.

One month ago a state ruling required Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.

32 states currently issuing recognize same-sex couples.


Stonewall Democrats election watch party

Posted on 05 Nov 2014 at 9:08am

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas held an election watch party at the Round-Up Saloon.