You’ll never guess what happened 40 years ago today in Dallas

Posted on 26 Mar 2015 at 8:18am

A scene from the film JawsToday is, for me, a significant anniversary. And most people don’t even know about it.

In the summer of 1975, a young filmmaker, directing just his second feature film, transformed the way we consume movies, but launching the summer blockbuster. Until then, studios just released films as they were available, sometimes waiting for the end of the year for their “prestige” pictures, but the idea of bubble-gum movies aimed at wide audiences out of school hadn’t taken hold until Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. It was the first film to gross $100 million on its initial release, and revolutionized Hollywood.

Of course, that was in the summer. So why is March 26 important? Because the very first preview screening of a rough cut of Jaws took place, in of all places, at the UA Cine cinemas (now torn down, they were near where Mockingbird Station is now) on March 26, 1975 — exactly 40 years ago today.


Indiana set to legalize LGBT discrimination

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 3:43pm

IndianaIndiana is set to sanction discrimination. The House and Senate bill just need to be reconciled and the governor promised to sign discrimination into law.

The so-called religious freedom bill protects people who want to use their religious beliefs as a valid excuse for not providing services to gays and lesbians.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the law “would protect people and business owners with strong religious beliefs from government intrusion.” Opponents call it a license to discriminate.

LGBT groups are encouraging people not to spend any money in Indiana and urging conferences scheduled to take place in the state to cancel.

Republican lawmakers pushing the bill said it protects businesses, but some of the state’s largest businesses said the law makes it harder for them to recruit and retain the best employees. Already organizers of GenCon, one of the country’s largest conventions for gamers, have said they will be moving their event out of Indiana because of the new law. And the Christian Church Disciples of Christ s reconsidering holding its 2017 national convention in Indiana.


Anti-marriage equality bill would cost Texas an extra $1 million+plus a year

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 2:47pm

Rep. Cecil Bill, R-Magnolia.

As the Legislature debates its biennial appropriations bill, choosing what money goes where, the Texas Legislative Board released one fiscal impact analysis that may leave its author and 19 co-authors pulling out their hair.

HB 1745, titled the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, by Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, would strip county clerks from issuing marriage licenses and cede control to the Texas Secretary of State office. It also re-asserts the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

According to the memo to State Affairs Chairman Rep. Byron Cook, it also comes with a two-year price tag of $2,456,782. In order to adequately issue marriage licenses, the state would have to add 18 full-time employees and enhance current technology to meet the increased demand. And that $2 million only applies through August 31, 2017.

To maintain these responsibilities the Budget Board estimates it will cost an additional $1,005,863 between 2017–2020. That’s $4,023,452.

Talk about fiscal conservatism.

The bill gets its first hearing today (Wednesday, March 25) before the State Affairs Committee.


DFW Federal Club welcoming lead plaintiff in marriage case before SCOTUS to spring luncheon

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 1:21pm
Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 1.18.23 PM

Jim Obergefell, left, and his husband, John Arthur, aboard the specially-equipped medical plane that flew them to Baltimore in 2013 to be married.

Jim Obergefell — lead plaintiff in a marriage equality case out of Ohio, one of four cases scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 — will be joining Susan Warbelow as a guest speaker at the DFW Federal Club‘s Spring Luncheon 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., on Saturday, March 28,, at the Tower Club in Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in downtown Dallas (on the 48th floor).

Seating is limited to 200, and RSVPs are required. Federal Club members can attend free of charge, and each member is entitled to bring one guest, also free of charge. The fee for additional guests is $35 per person, and the fee for visitors not accompanied by a member is $50. For tickets and to RSVP, go here.

Obergefell and his partner, John Arthur, had been together more than 20 years in 2013 when they traveled from their home in Ohio to Maryland to get legally married. That trip might have been relatively easy for most couples. But because Arthur was suffered from ALS and was paralyzed and confined to his bed, this couple’s trip required a small, specially-equipped medical plane, two pilots, a nurse and Arthur’s aunt, who officiated over their marriage ceremony.

The plane landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, sitting there for about 10 minutes — just long enough for Arthur and Obergefell to exchange wedding vows — before returning the men to Ohio. Arthur died three months later, but Obergefell has carried on with the fight for marriage equality.


Putting a price on equality

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 12:57pm

Screen shot 2015-03-25 at 12.53.24 PM

A new report released today (Wednesday, March 25) by Equality Means Business, a coalition of major employers in Florida, claims that anti-LGBT policies and laws costs employers in the state more than $362 million a year.

The report includes interviews with a number of top executives from national companies based in Florida and it links business leaders’ concerns over the state’s ability to compete with hard dollar losses in productivity and employee turnover, according to a statement from Equality Florida.

Other key findings include:

• Business executives cite Florida’s reputation as being hostile to diversity among their chief challenges in attracting and retaining talent.

• More than 60 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual employees and more than 80 percent of transgender employees in Florida report having experienced discrimination in the workplace.

• Top executives recognize that the top talent among the Millenials generation values diversity and inclusion, making nondiscrimination protections a must-have.

Many of the business executives intervewed said they believe their businesses actually suffered because of Florida’s reputation for being hostile to LGBTs and others. And most of those participating said they see non-discrimination protections as non-negotiable, common sense practices critical to attracting and attaining the best and the brightest employees.

Nadine Smith, co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, which convened the Equality Means Business coalition, said the report shows that it is “clearly in the state’s interest to provide equal protection for all employees.”

There is a new, similar organization getting off the ground here in the Lone Star State, called Texas Competes, a “partnership of business leaders committed to a Texas that is economically vibrant and welcoming of all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The purpose of Texas Competes is to prove that “fair treatment for gay and transgender people isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for businesses, too.”

That’s a very important lesson that the Texas Legislature needs to learn, considering all the truly nasty anti-LGBT bills lawmakers are currently considering in Austin.


BREAKING: HBO cancels ‘Looking’

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 10:29am

looking15_10[1]UPDATE: In an official statement, HBO confirmed the cancellation, adding, “HBO will present the final chapter of their journey as a special, We look forward to sharing this adventure with the show['s] loyal fans.

Looking, the controversial but low-rated series about gay men in San Francisco, has not been renewed for a third season, writer Kevin Sessums and star Jonathan Groff have confirmed. Groff, however, is promising a follow-up movie, according to NewNowNext. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise; HBO, which airs the series, typically announces next-season renewals early on, to convince viewers of their commitment to a show. The second-season finale of Looking aired Sunday.


AFA uses gay artist’s work to remind Supreme Court … well, we’re not sure what their point is

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 10:13am

The American Family Association ran this ad to remind the Supreme Court whose idea marriage was in the first place. But we’re not sure their point. Marriage was the idea of Michelangelo, the gay Renaissance artist who painted the Sistine Chapel?

Funny how marriage equality opponents can’t find their own artists to illustrate their point.

Also, it’s interesting that the people using the Bible to support their bigotry apparently have never read it. Watch the video below of Tim Wildmon defending his organization’s decision to place the ad. Did you hear that part about how “one man, one woman” is the Biblical model for marriage? Yeah, well, that’s certainly not how it is in the Bible I’ve read.


Thought of the day

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 10:01am

Canadian born Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz and Doppelganger

One of these two creatures is a foreign-born ghoul who sucks the life out of his victims in order to further his deranged, evil ends of self-aggrandizement and tyranny. The other is actor Al Lewis.


CD REVIEW: Madonna’s ‘Rebel Heart’

Posted on 25 Mar 2015 at 9:07am

HMO033015MADONNALike a virgin, Madonna is pure again. Cleansed of the unbecoming trend grabs that marred the icon’s erratic predecessors — namely the sinfully juvenile Hard Candy, and then MDNA, better but still pastiche — our Blessed Goddess steps back into her ray of light and applies a new shine to an old sound.

For once, Madonna doesn’t keep nostalgia at bay. In fact, during Rebel Heart, her most sophisticated release since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, she keeps wistfulness close by. The result is tangled, tortured but shockingly authentic, as she basks in all the heyday glory that earned the Michigan dreamer her seat and, eventually, a crown. Whatever life’s done to Madonna lately — the kids are growing up; Madonna’s growing up — she and Rebel Heart are better for it.

Witnessing the 56-year-old in self-reflection mode, à la Ray of Light and American Life, is refreshing, and also, despite Madonna’s refusal to actually age, befitting. She holds your hand during the perseverance paean “Ghosttown,” a surging mid-tempo with a melancholic narrative reminiscent of “This Used to Be My Playground.” The world hurts, Madonna muses, but love heals. The song is a pillar of hope, a theme recycled during the uplifting “Hold Tight;” like a hug as she reluctantly sends her children out into this “mad world,” Mother Madonna is reassuring — hold tight; everything’s gonna be all right — over a sonic spill of rumbling drums and electronic fuzz. Harnessing an organic energy that’s been noticeably lacking from the fabricated Pharrell-produced pop confections of her most recent efforts, Rebel Heart gets into the groove by recapturing the rawness heard particularly on the under-appreciated American Life. “Body Shop” encapsulates that quality best, the sexy innuendo taking a backseat to the very modest, Indian-influenced folk vibe. Her voice wispy and mesmeric, Madonna sounds like she’s leading a yin yoga retreat.

Less effective are Madonna’s unabashed attempts at relevancy, when the sexual provocateur essentially parodies her own cone-wearing self on “Holy Water,” an exercise in excess. Have all the sex you want, Madonna. And by all means, make that pole your bitch. But album-audible moaning? Equating your bits to a Baptismal liquid? Love you, lady, but this just might be a good time to retire the fornication-fueled religious allegories.

The even weaker, slinky bedroom-bumper “S.E.X” doesn’t even bother with thinly veiled metaphors (at one point she randomly drops “raw meat” like an afterthought) as she promises to “take you to a place you will not forget,” but then she doesn’t. And poof. Gone.

Most memorable about Rebel Heart is Madonna as a messenger of love, unity and peace — the sorcerer down in the deep, as she puts it on the deluxe edition’s penultimate powerhouse “Messiah.” There’s an ease about Madonna during these moments of musing, where she looks inward and sends her light outward, and the crown, though briefly, comes off. The ego is disbanded. For once, whether we like it or not, the icon, the diva, the high priestess of pop — she’s real. I can’t be a superhero right now / Even hearts made of steel can break down, she laments on “Joan of Arc,” a surprisingly direct acknowledgement of facets that have, particularly as of late, evaded the star’s essence: sensitivity, candor and sincerity.

It all comes full circle with the title track “Rebel Heart,” the closer. A blast from the past, a content Madonna recounts the trail she blazed for herself — and, obviously, others — through fierce determination and, you know (and she knows), by being a “narcissist.” Madonna’s Rebel Heart album is the nearly lifetime-long result of broken boundaries and bravado … and, for the first time in 10 years, it’s beating stronger than ever.

 — Chris Azzopardi


The Texas Capitol’s 11 Commandments monument

Posted on 24 Mar 2015 at 2:24pm

11 commandmentYesterday, Equality Texas held a lobby day, the same day Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore stood on the Texas Capitol steps and called gays and lesbians perverts.

Moore first came to national attention in 2003 when he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument, which he had commissioned, from the Alabama Judicial Building, despite a federal court order. He was removed from office but was re-elected to the same post in 2012.

In Texas, we have our own Ten Commandments monument that stands behind the Capitol building, off to the west. What I love about the Texas 10 commandments is that it lists 11 commandments — but we have to do everything bigger in Texas.

Here’s a list of the 11 commandments as written on the monument or you can click and enlarge the photo and read for yourself:

The Ten Commandments

I AM the LORD thy God

1- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2- Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images.
3- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God in vain.
4- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5- Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
6- Thou shalt not kill.
7- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8- Thou shalt not steal.
9- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
11- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, not his maidservant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbors.

That’s nine thou shalt nots, one remember and one honor. Eleven.

Of course, No. 6 is mistranslated. If you couldn’t kill, how would you justify the death penalty, stoning gays to death or even eating meat. The Hebrew word teertzach means “murder,” not “kill.” You shouldn’t murder.

But where did they get 11 commandments? The last two in the original is just one and involves coveting all property — houses and wives. By dividing them out, it acknowledges that women aren’t on the same level as physical property. No, women are on the level of cattle and even servants and should be treated as such.

I really object to what seems like a simple change to the original 10 commandments because in 1961, when this monument was built, they redefined marriage as it’s existed since biblical times.

Oh, and more about Lobby Day in Friday’s Dallas Voice.