This Week in Marriage Equality

Posted on 17 Nov 2014 at 12:16pm

Marriage_Equality_Map11-17In France, former President Nicholas Sarkozy, who believes in “traditional” marriage so much he’s been married three times, wants to repeal the marriage equality law. Oklahoma once again proves it’s ahead of Texas in relationship recognition. And, although Justice Sonia Sotomayor has stayed marriage rulings twice, Clarence Thomas refused to.

South Dakota

Last week, a U.S. District Judge refused a state motion to dismiss a marriage equality case.

The court will now move forward in considering the constitutionality of South Dakota’s ban, with the judge ordering the state to respond to the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgement within ten days.


Seven couples filed a lawsuit today (Monday, Nov. 17) challenging Nebraska’s marriage ban.


Justice Clarence Thomas refused to halt marriage equality in Arizona.

Thomas wrote he denied the Arizona request for review because he doesn’t believe that there are enough votes from the Supreme Court to take the case, due to how the full court has recently decided other cases for review. He called it “unfortunate,” and wrote, “at the very least, we owe the people of Arizona the respect of our review before we let stand a decision facially invalidating a state constitutional amendment.

South Carolina

Marriage could begin in South Carolina on Thursday, Nov. 20, making it marriage-equality state No. 34.

When a federal judge struck down South Carolina’s marriage law last week, he stayed his ruling until this Thursday to give the state attorney general time to appeal to the 4th Circuit. The 4th Circuit has already ruled in favor of marriage equality in Virginia and the other states in the circuit — West Virginia and North Carolina — also have become marriage equality states.


On Nov. 12, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that non-biological parents can seek custody of a child based on agreement to parent together.

The case concerned an Oklahoma same-sex couple who entered into a civil union in New Zealand. The court ruled the non-biological mom could seek custody based on the couple’s agreement to parent their child as long as custody was in the best interest of that child.


After Kansas sort of became a marriage equality state last week, the National Organization for Marriage says the U.S. Supreme Court’s order ending its stay on marriage equality in Kansas has “left the decision up to county judges” whether to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Human Rights Campaign refutes the NOM opinion, saying, “As it turns out, the U.S. Constitution rather clearly spells out the powers vested in the federal judiciary and nowhere does it say state governors can ignore federal court rulings because they don’t like them.”

6th Circuit

After the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a state’s right to discriminate, the plaintiffs from the four state affected  — Michigan, Ohio, Tennesee and Kentucky — have now filed appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court:


The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed on behalf of four couples in Tennessee.

LCLR wrote, “The court of appeals’ holding not only denies recognition to petitioners’ own marriages and families, but also establishes a ‘checkerboard’ nation in which same-sex couples’ marriages are dissolved and re-established as they travel across the country. That is the antithesis of the stability that marriage is supposed to afford.”


Two cases from Ohio were appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Lambda Legal and the ACLU.

Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal, said, “We have reached a tipping point, and the lives of thousands of same-sex spouses and their families hang in the balance.”

James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and HIV Project, said “When you’re married, you’re married, no matter whether you travel or move to another state.”


Private attorneys appealed the Michigan case.

Meanwhile, the governor has declared 300 marriages, which took place before the U.S. District Court’s ruling was stayed, void.


Private attorneys appealed the two consolidated Kentucky cases.



Transgender Day of Remembrance at Cathedral of Hope

Posted on 17 Nov 2014 at 12:04pm

The Transgender Education Network of Texas hosted a Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial service and vigil at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 16 at the Cathedral of Hope. The event honored the lives of trans people who died from anti-trans violence in 2014, including Alex C. DeChiara, 18, of Euless. Alex committed suicide last May, following severe bullying for being transgender.


Just back from the Allred Unit

Posted on 14 Nov 2014 at 4:11pm

Christopher Hines filming Anthony Garcia at Allred Unit

Just got home from the Allred Unit just outside of Wichita Falls. Lots more about the Logo documentary that Christopher Hines is making later.

Fascinating day.

Met a 24-year-old prisoner named Anthony Garcia, a gay man from Fort Worth, who has been in prison 5 1/2 years and has 2 1/2 to go. The charge was assault, but we know we don’t have the whole story. He claims he was attacked, but was arrested and prosecuted. Need to look up the case and get more information.

We could only speak to Anthony by phone through glass because of his level of incarceration. When he first came in, he was obviously nervous but after a few minutes, he relaxed and told his story.

A friend of Anthony’s recently committed suicide in prison. Very touching story. He lost his closest friend.

According to one guard who accompanied us, there have been a couple of suicides recently, after not having any in several years. Amazing they’re able to avoid suicide, but the guard explained that any hint of that sort of depression and the inmate gets help.

Lots more to tell, but need to research his case before writing about it.


Cocktail Friday: The Black Tie

Posted on 14 Nov 2014 at 1:41pm

IMG_8114OK, since the Black Tie Dinner is this weekend, I decided to create a nice drink specifically for the event would be made with vodka  (gays love their vodka!) …. with a Black Tie name … and theme … and even appearance. So consider making this at your pre-party (or post — we’re not picky) festivities.

1.5 oz. favorite premium vodka (your choice)

1.5 oz. ginger ale


Chocolate syrup (Bosco, Hershey’s, etc.)

Making it: Combine vodka and ginger ale in a shaker with ice. Shake. In a martini glass, squirt a layer of chocolate syrup around the bottom and edges. Fill glass with contents of shaker, strained; add a few cubes of ice if desired. Add a float of Kahlua.


“He-man, woman haters”?

Posted on 14 Nov 2014 at 8:05am

Why aren’t gay men stronger allies for our lesbian sisters?

Since coming out, I always thought — perhaps naively — that gay men and lesbians were natural allies: We face similar societal disdain. We are often bullied and marginalized by heterosexuals. People use religion to ostracize and discriminate against us.

But it seems that lesbians and gay men don’t really get along all that well — or that we just do an awful lot of ignoring each other.

What is it that separates us? Beyond body parts and varying degrees of femininity and masculinity, what is the source of the divide among the predominant genders within the L and G of LGBT?

All of us were born of women. Many gay men have sisters, aunts, female friends — and some of us have even had wives. Although neither gender prefers to date the other, our non-heterosexuality should be the one thing that binds us.

And yet, it seems that in some ways it is actually what divides us.

I understand, to an extent, social segregation — the need and desire for “boy places” and “girl places.” (Neither of those places, by the way, make room for gender non-conformers and trans people; but that’s another article.)

I understand the need for gender-specific groups such as The Handsome Father, which was formed to help gay fathers, who are the minority of genders raising children and can get lost in mothers-only groups and spaces, find community.

But I don’t understand why men — straight and gay — are paid more than women. I don’t understand why men in power appear to be hell-bent on taking choices away from women. And I don’t understand why gay men aren’t naturally staunch allies for our lesbian sisters.

This isn’t to say that all gay men are unfriendly toward lesbians or don’t have lesbian friends. Though, this line of reasoning makes me think of when people jump to defend themselves against an accusation of racism or homophobia by saying, “But I have lots of [black/gay] friends!”

You’d think, knowing our history, we would have an undeniable reputation for supporting women; but we do not. When a generation of gay men was dying of AIDS, the women — lesbians in particular — cared for us when no one else, not even our mothers, would. Maybe we’ve forgotten that history or just don’t know it.
Todd Whitley
I do not believe, as Rose McGowan recently asserted, that gay men are misogynistic. But I do think we’re generally indifferent and disinterested.

We don’t have to deal with pregnancy. The majority of us aren’t raising children. We’re not victimized by men anywhere near the extent they are. And even though we experience discrimination because of our sexual identity, we’re still privileged in society over women with regard to job opportunity and pay.

Maybe part of the divide is being OK with the fact that without doing a thing, we earn more simply because of our gender and that no one is outright attempting to impede our right to do sexually with our bodies what we want. Maybe it’s because we unwittingly fall in with our heterosexual counterparts using disparaging words to describe women or things about them we don’t like.

Maybe we secretly feel guilty for our own complicity or because we don’t outwardly care more.

Since moving into Dallas’ “gay ghetto,” I’ll admit that I myself generally associate with my gay male friends more than my lesbian friends.

Part of that is simply adjacency; my lesbian friends don’t live in the gayborhood. And when we do go out to the bars — even with women in tow — we’re generally always at one of the predominately male establishments versus the single lesbian choice.

I understand that there are sociologic differences in how women and men form community, interact within it and relate to one another. I also understand more and more the role privilege plays in where men and women live, the choices each makes and the options available toeither group.

But what am I doing about it? And why should I care?

The National Center for Lesbian Rights exists to fight for the rights of all LGBT people while empowering lesbians in leadership. But the organization also covets the participation of those Executive Director Kate Kendell refers to as “the very best men.” In remarks she made in her recent visit to Dallas, Kendell suggested, “You cannot grow up in this culture and not be homophobic, racist, or misogynistic. … But you can fight [those attitudes], every day.”

Look. I know most of us aren’t “he-man woman haters,” but sometimes, I believe being lukewarm can be worse than taking no definitive stand at all. I can’t for the life of me understand — again — why one group who experiences oppression doesn’t vociferously come to the aid of the group that does.

And instead of using our privilege as men to separate, why the hell aren’t we gay men using it to empower and advocate on women’s behalf?

Some would call this attitude being a feminist. And I sure hope so.

I hope my gay brothers — many of whom naturally imbue a greater sense of the feminine than most of their heterosexual counterparts (something writer/activist Tyler Curry says we should embrace) — will become full-fledged feminists and exert their influence within our society for more than just their own rights.

And I hope the solidarity we can achieve brings our communities together in a way that hasn’t ever been seen — not the result of tragedy but the outcome of mutual respect and diligent support for one another.

A place where men listen to women instead of making excuses or getting defensive. Where gay men stand with lesbians on issues that are every bit as crucial to lesbians today as HIV/AIDS was to gay men in the 1980s and ’90s. Where we go beyond having a drink together at Sue’s or two-stepping at the Round-Up and become staunch advocates in every space of our society.

And when we do, what a marvelous thing we model for the greater community of women and men, regardless of where one falls on the gender spectrum.

I’ve said before that the LGBT community holds a lot of power to effect change in society at large. And here’s another way — by exhibiting a better way to be: equal, free from the impositions of gender that divide us, marching arm in arm, united, undeterred, unbreakable.

In Merger Poem, artist Judy Chicago wrote:

“And then all that has divided us will merge. ….

“And then both men and women will be gentle.

“And then both women and men will be strong.

“And then no person will be subject to another’s will.”

He-man women-lovers, unite!

Todd Whitley is a local activist and communications manager for Equality Texas. He can usually be found tweeting (@toddwhitley), holding a picket sign, thrift store shopping or eating Tex-Mex. Read his blog at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 14, 2014


Scared straight … I mean gay

Posted on 14 Nov 2014 at 5:48am

imagesI’m on my way to prison this morning.

I’m headed for the Allred Unit outside of Wichita Falls.


A producer from California is making a documentary about gays in prison for Logo and I’m riding along. And yes, I’m a little nervous.

The last job my father had before he retired was working at Sing Sing, the notorious maximum security prison north of New York City. He taught prisoners machine shop skills during their last year behind bars before their release. I asked him once if it bothered him working with these guys after he found out what they did. He said that although he’d spend several hours with each one every day, he never asked them what they had done. That way, he said, he could just deal with them as people.

This morning, after a background check and sending off a list of what I’d be bringing with me, I’m on my way to Allred and we’re just going to talk to someone. Just like any interview I’ve ever done. But we’ll talk about what he did. I’ll let you know how that worked out later.


Cedar Springs improvements to be presented at Rose Room meeting

Posted on 13 Nov 2014 at 3:16pm

cropped-cs_fundamentals1In the last bond election, money was set aside for improvements in each council district. Former council members Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano set aside part of their funds for improvements on Cedar Springs Road. (The district line runs down the middle of the street).

The Cedar Springs Merchants Association, the Dallas Tavern Guild and others have made suggestions. A design team has taken those ideas and will present them at a meeting open to the public in The Rose Room at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18. No, they’re not proposing the picture above. That’s from the design team’s announcement page.

Here’s their notice:

Cedar Springs Complete Streets Public Meeting #2
04 Tuesday Nov 2014

Posted by Mark Dzuibek-Brown AICP, PTP in Cedar Springs Complete Streets Project

Please join us Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at The Rose Room (Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Rd.) at 6pm-8pm for our 2nd Cedar Springs Complete Streets workshop.

We’ll be presenting two design alternatives based on the feedback we received from the first public meeting. Our goal for this workshop is to select a preferred design concept which will continue through engineering and into construction in 2016.

We look forward to seeing you there.


Dorothy can get married in equality state No. 33: Kansas

Posted on 13 Nov 2014 at 9:46am

KansasThe U.S. Supreme Court lifted its stay on marriage in Kansas on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Kansas becomes marriage equality state No. 33. Its laws fall in line with the rest of the 10th circuit, which previously ruled Oklahoma and Utah anti-marriage-equality laws violated due process and equal protection. When the Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from those two states, the ruling applied to the rest of the circuit, which also includes New Mexico, Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado.

New Mexico became a marriage equality state last year. The rest of the 10th circuit states have become marriage equality states since the October Supreme Court decision not to hear the Utah and Oklahoma cases.


Review: Kitchen Dog’s ‘The Arsonists’ becomes a farce of the mind

Posted on 13 Nov 2014 at 9:04am

ARSON6Gottlieb (Max Hartmann) is an unscrupulous businessman in such denial, he doesn’t worry a bit that a key employe he cheated out of a future committed suicide because of the betrayal. He’s happily removed from the realities of how hard life is for the 99 percenters, clucking his tongue that a group of arsonists appear to be targeting the wealthy. How do his peers allow themselves to be so deceived by criminals?

Until one day, Joseph (Jason Kane), a brutish thug, shows up on his doorstep with a ludicrous sob story and, via intimidation and guilt, wheedles his way into Gottlieb’s life to plan yet another act of terrorism … just for the hell of it, apparently.

The late Swiss intellectual Max Frisch made his rep as a playwright 60 years ago with The Arsonists, but this newish translation — getting its regional premiere from Kitchen Dog Theater — gives ample legroom for theater companies to make of it as they wish. In KDT’s case, they’ve turned it into a vaudeville — a farce of the mind that relies on stabs of original music, word play and subtle psychology to burrow under your skin about the nature of society and man’s capacity for self-deception: “They can’t be arsonists — they don’t have matches,” Gottlieb reasons before turning over his Zippo to a scary crew of villains (which now also includes Michael Fererico, who has perfected the art of turning whiny nebbishes into intense comic foils).

This is prime real estate for director Tim Johnson to trod over, combining his affection for absurdism with dark insights into the psyche that can be arresting between blurts of laughter. The cast is top-notch, including Jenny Ledel as a passive-aggressive maid whose frustration with her employer mirrors the audience’s … and her inability to show him the light reminds us that sometimes, mankind is simply beyond helping itself.

Now playing through Dec. 13.


Drag queens wanted for open casting call in Austin

Posted on 12 Nov 2014 at 3:23pm
Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 3.19.58 PM

Mike White

Calling all drag queens: Are you looking to become a star on the small screen? Then you just might want to head to Austin on Saturday.

Vicky Boone Casting is conducting a regional search for drag queens to play lead roles in an upcoming HBO pilot, called Mama Dallas and created by writer/filmmaker Mike White of Enlightened, Chuck & Buck and School of Rock fame.

There will be an open casting call Saturday, Nov. 15, from 2-6 p.m. at Bout Time II, 6607 I-35 in Austin, to cast the lead part of “Liberty Bell.”

According to the press release from Vicky Boone Casting, Liberty Bell “appears to be an attractive, sexy woman with a flirty side — but she’s not, really. Born Albert De Lorio, Liberty is a drag queen with an ebullient, chatty, upbeat personality, but she leads an unpleasantly seedy life … a life that she plans to turn around with a little re-invention and identity theft.”

The filmmaker is looking for a 30-something male of open ethnicity to play the role.

You don’t need an appointment for the open casting call, and people will be seen on a first-come, first-seen basis. Anyone who is cast will be compensated “on the scale of professional actors.”

Those interested in auditioning may email a picture in advance to with the subject title “Mamma Dallas” and include their name, resume, best contact info and current city of residence.

Interested parties are also encouraged to create free account on

Shooting for Mamma Dallas begins March 2015.

(And given recent news about a scammer working Oak Lawn and posing as a “modeling agent,” let me include this info to establish Vicuy Boone Casting’s bona fides: The agent has done regional casting for such films as The Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints starring Rooney Mara, Parkland starring Paul Giamatti, Men, Women, and Children starring Adam Sandler and Richard Linklater’s upcoming That’s What I’m Talking About.)