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.

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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.”

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Kansas is not recognizing its own marriages

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 12:25pm

Marriage_Equality_Map11-21In an attempt to prove it can be the most contemptuous state, marriages performed in Kansas are not being recognized by the state of Kansas.

Some county clerks in Kansas are complying with a court order to allow same-sex couples to marry. But nothing in the order said the state had to recognize those marriages.

According to the Wichita Eagle, state offices are not changing their policies while the state continues its appeal. So married couples are not being allowed to change their names on their drivers licenses as heterosexual couples may. Married couples won’t be allowed to file joint tax returns the Kansas Department of Revenue said on Nov. 18.

Marriage license forms, however, have been revised to accommodate same-sex couples.

In the last session of the Kansas legislature, the House passed a bill that would have allowed public employees to refuse to serve same-sex couples on religious grounds. The bill did not pass the Senate, but the state is acting as if it had been signed into law. Should a law like this pass, the 10th Circuit has already ruled that a law based on animus is unconstitutional.

Only 19 of 105 Kansas counties are issuing marriage licenses.

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Dallas County offers free flu shots

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 11:48am

vaccineDallas County Health and Human Services offers free flu vaccines in an all-in-one shot that protects from multiple strains including H1N1 from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. at the County Health Department’s building at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway.

No appointments are necessary. For more info 214-819-2162.

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Marriage begins in Montana and South Carolina today

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 10:35am

Marriage_Equality_Map11-21The Billings Gazette reports that couples were lined up at county courthouses across Montana today (Thursday, Nov. 20) as marriage equality came to the final state in the 9th Circuit. In South Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal from the state’s attorney general and marriage begins at noon today in that state.

Including Kansas, where some counties are still holding out because they think Supreme Court rulings don’t necessarily apply to them, there are 35 marriage equality states.

The next state could be Mississippi where a positive ruling is expected soon. That case was heard in U.S. District Court on Nov. 17.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear a case, because the 6th Circuit upheld discrimination for Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The 5th Circuit will hear Texas and Louisiana cases in January. If that court upholds bigotry, the Supreme Court could take one of those cases.

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Here’s to the day we no longer need TDOR

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 9:00am

By Rizi Xavier Timane

13th

Rizi Xavier Timane

Every year on Nov. 20, transgender individuals and their allies around the world commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

But make no mistake: This is not a holiday, and the ceremonies we hold are certainly not celebrations.

Rather, the Day of Remembrance is a solemn time when we can come together and reflect on the battles we have fought and continue to fight and those individuals we have lost — the transgender and other gender-nonconforming individuals who were innocent victims of violence because of who they were, because they had the audacity to live as their authentic selves.

I would like to say I’ve never experienced this extreme sort of prejudice before, but like most trans people, I have my stories. While I thank God there have never been any attempts on my life, there have been people around me who thought I would be better off — or they would be better off — if I were dead. While I was a university student in London, another young person studying there passed away, and some of my fellow African students (I am from Nigeria) made a point of saying, loudly and closely enough that they knew I would hear, that it should have been me instead.

Besides the defeating personal implications of hearing such a thing, this incident continues to be a sad reminder to me of how deeply many people undervalue transgender lives and how, at any moment, someone out there could hate us enough to kill us. It reminds me that it could easily be our pictures shown at memorial services on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

But this is part of what the day is for: to remind us that we all share this heavy burden, that we are not alone in our persecution and suffering.

Is this comforting? In some ways, yes. It’s always a comfort to know someone else feels as we do.

But it’s also problematic. That we even have to have such a day is, in my opinion, shameful not for those of us who participate or those we remember but for society as a whole — for the culture of conformity and hatred that keeps us hidden within ourselves, afraid to come out for fear of rejection and outright violence.

I don’t want a day of remembrance. I want a Pride day, like the LGB community has. Or no day at all because the murders of transgender individuals have ended in every nation around the world.

How can we make this happen? How can we eradicate the need for a Transgender Day of Remembrance?

In general we need more allies, more compassion, more understanding and more tolerance. We need more safe spaces in which we can raise our voices and share our stories. We need mandatory diversity training in schools and universities, police departments, hospitals and businesses so everyone will be aware of and understand transgender individuals and issues. We need nationwide laws to ban discrimination based on gender identity and presentation.

We need all this for our safety. Most of all, we simply need the deaths to stop.

Rizi Xavier Timane is a transgender minister, author, recording artist and outspoken advocate for the LGBT community. He has performed his positive, LGB-inclusive inspirational music at venues all across the U.S. and internationally. In his memoir, An Unspoken Compromise, Timane shares his journey to self-acceptance as a trans man of faith; he also writes for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance blog, is a sought-after public speaker on the intersection of religion and LGBT civil rights, and holds a master’s in social work and a Ph.D. in Christian counseling.  As the founder of Rizi Timane Ministries and The Happy Transgender Center, he provides affirming spiritual support to people of all faiths, sexual orientations and gender identities. Having been subjected to what he terms, “involuntary religious-based abuse” in the form of multiple exorcisms to pray the gay or trans away and the subsequent self-loathing and drug/alcohol abuse that resulted from that Timane is a firm believer in spiritual affirmation for the trans community. His greatest accomplishment has been the establishment of an annual transgender surgery and hormones scholarship for trans-persons who, for whatever reason, cannot afford the surgery or hormone therapy they want and need.

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Liquid Zoo set for soft opening Friday in former Drama Room space

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 8:00am

ZooWe’ve had enough of your Drama! Yep, the Drama Room closed nearly two years ago, and the space has remained vacant … until now. New owner Nell Scarborough has taken over and rebranded the space as Liquid Zoo.

The new club will feature pool, darts, shuffleboard and karaoke every night, with Wayne Smith performing host duties on Wednesdays and Saturdays, plus Bingo Thursdays, Trivia Wednesdays, Open Mike Tuesdays and poker three nights a week. There will be a full kitchen in time for the official grand opening in January, but until then, enjoy a limited menu.

And enjoy it sooner than you might expect: Liquid Zoo goes live tomorrow evening (Friday, Nov. 21)  at 6 p.m. Head on by for free food, drink specials and giveaways.

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Montana becomes No. 35

Posted on 19 Nov 2014 at 4:25pm
Marriage_Equality_Map11-17

By the end of November, the orange and purple should be blue on this map.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris has ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and respect for same-sex couples’ marriages in Montana.

Today’s (Wednesday, Nov. 19) ruling follows a favorable marriage ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in cases out of Idaho and Nevada. The circuit court holds jurisdiction over Montana, as well as Alaska and Arizona, which also have the freedom to marry.

Although Montana can appeal to the 9th Circuit, that court has refused to stay marriage rulings for other states. The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t stayed rulings in circuits where it rejected appeals. So marriage in Montana is likely to begin over the next few days.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

“Montana’s same-sex couples and their loved ones want what all families want: joy, protections, security, and respect — and that’s what the freedom to marry is all about. This ruling, in keeping with nearly every other court that has ruled in more than a year, brings us to 35 states with the freedom to marry — but we are not done until we end marriage discrimination in all 50 states. It’s time for the Supreme Court to affirm the freedom to marry nationwide and bring our country to national resolution for all loving and committed couples in every state.”

More than 50 federal and state courts in the past year have ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

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Ex-gay leader marries his husband in Oklahoma

Posted on 19 Nov 2014 at 2:25pm
Smid

The happy ex-ex-gay newlywed couple

John Smid, a leader of the ex-gay group Love in Action, married his partner Larry McQueen on Nov. 16 in a ceremony held in Oklahoma.

Several years ago, we ran a story about a Dallas couple tortured with so-called “reparative therapy” by Love in Action. After the story ran, the ex-gays involved in their ordeal who had all become ex-ex-gays by then, contacted the couple to apologize for their involvement.

The couple live in Paris, Texas, where marriage — thanks to the hard work of people like Smid — is still not legal. Nice that he lives close enough to marriage equality state Oklahoma that he can take advantage of their liberal marriage laws.

We wish Smid — who has done so much harm to so many gay people — and his husband happiness.

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South Carolina marriage appeal turned down

Posted on 19 Nov 2014 at 11:22am

Marriage_Equality_Map11-17The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down a request to stay marriage equality in South Carolina.

Although the 4th Circuit has not issued any rulings directly regarding South Carolina’s marriage equality ban, the court has ruled that Virginia’s marriage equality ban is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review that ruling means that the 4th Circuit’s decision in the Virginia case extends to all the other others under the 4th Circuit’s jurisdiction.

North Carolina and West Virginia had already complied. South Carolina balked and has been using a variety of delaying tactics.

Unless the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts steps in, South Carolina will become marriage equality state No. 34 on Thursday, Nov. 20.

 

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