Bills filed in Texas lege: Marijuana in Texas and guns out of Dallas

Posted on 15 Nov 2016 at 10:08am
Rep. Eric Johnson

Rep. Eric Johnson

With the time for pre-filing bills for the Texas Legislature’s 2017 session now open, the anti-LGBT bills are piling up quickly. Because in Texas, as in Indiana and North Carolina, we have nothing more to fear than a transgender person’s pee.

For example, Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, filed a bill that would override city ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other factors not recognized by state law. Edgewood is 60 miles east of Dallas, smack dab in the middle of Louie Gohmert’s congressional district.

But Rep. Eric Johnson countered with HB 225, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression and HB 290 that would prohibit pay discrimination based on gender.

Another issue that will be debated in both houses of the legislature is local control. You know how Republicans are always screaming about local control? Well, they’re not so happy with local control in Dallas or Austin.

Sen. Don. Huffines, whose district includes parts of Oak Lawn, but lives in Plano and refuses to listen to anything anyone in Dallas wants, filed a bill to eliminate all local regulations on taxis, limousines and ride-hailing companies.

On the other hand, Johnson filed HB291 that would allow Dallas to opt out of open carry.

Concerned with police shootings nationally, Johnson passed a bill in the last legislature that required reporting of police shootings. Yesterday, he filed a bill to grant funds so that law enforcement agencies could comply and another that would create an enforcement mechanism so police forces would comply.

Here’s another bill that will be of interest. Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, filed a bill — HB 81 — that will take possession of one ounce of marijuana out of criminal jurisdiction and turn it into a civil penalty, eliminating arrest, jail time and criminal record. This is the first time this bill has been introduced, so it will be interesting to see if it gets a hearing, no less gets out of committee.


UPDATE: Wilshire Baptist Church votes on accepting LGBT members

Posted on 14 Nov 2016 at 3:49pm

Wilshire Baptist Church

UPDATE: The vote is in and Wilshire Baptist Church voted to give full membership to its LGBT members, which effectively kicks them out of the Southern Baptist Convention. Buh bye.

The resolution passed with 61 percent of the vote with 948 members voting in favor of the change, 367 against and four abstaining.


Wilshire Baptist Church, on Abrams Road between Mockingbird Lane and Northwest Highway, voted on Sunday (Nov. 13) whether to accept LGBT people as members. The vote tally should be finished by Tuesday.

Wilshire Baptist Church and a church in Austin both received warnings from the Southern Baptist Convention last week that they would be kicked out if they changed their policy. Actually the convention warned it could no longer accept contributions from the churches if some of their money came from gay people who were members. The vote is a result of work by a diversity and inclusion committee created a year ago.

The resolution:

RESOLVED, that the membership of Wilshire Baptist Church affirms its existing bylaws, which provide for a single class of membership.”

The resolution was crafted in response to the work of the Inclusion and Diversity Study Group, but the resolution presented does not call for a vote on the Study Group report.

The deacons have offered the following interpretation of what this vote means:

By voting YES on the resolution, the membership affirms the bylaws, which provide for one class of membership. Therefore, this resolution would permit all members to participate in congregational life on the same basis as any other church member regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This affirms the ability of the church’s committees and lay and staff governance structures to consider all members for leadership, ordination, baby dedication and marriage based upon individual merit and the discernment of those duly elected to governance positions.

By voting NO on the resolution, the membership affirms the existing operational principle that does not allow some members to be considered for certain leadership roles, ordination, baby dedication and marriage based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.


The resolution implies that the church already has a number of LGBT members, who currently have a second-class membership.

In 2010, Royal Lane Baptist Church became no longer welcome to send money to the Southern Baptist Convention when they posted something on their website saying everyone was welcome. The words LGBT or gay were never used, although LGBT members had become part of the church leadership. That church is thriving and is not affiliated with another Baptist alliance.


VA scraps plan to offer gender confirmation surgery

Posted on 14 Nov 2016 at 12:11pm

AMPAA proposed rule change that would have allowed sex confirmation surgery for transgender veterans has been scrapped because of funding, according to

The rule change was kicked back by the Office of Management and Budget because it did not include aq source for funding.

A statement from the VA to said, “VA has been and will continue to explore a regulatory change that would allow VA to perform gender alteration surgery and a change in the medical benefits package, when appropriated funding is available. Therefore, this regulation will be withdrawn from the Fall 2016 Unified Agenda.”

American Military Partner Association, the largest organization of LGBT military families issued a statement expressing its disappointment.

“All of our nation’s veterans, regardless of their gender identity, deserve access to the medical care they earned serving our nation,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “This is a deeply disappointing setback in making sure an often medically necessary procedure for transgender veterans is part of that care. Moreover, as we face a new incoming administration, we implore fair-minded Americans to stand united in holding our new administration officials accountable by insisting this be fixed. The medical care of all our nation’s heroes, including transgender veterans, must be a priority.”


GLFD needs volunteers for SPCA event

Posted on 14 Nov 2016 at 11:41am

spca-vehicleGay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas needs volunteers to help the SPCA at NorthPark Center for Home for the Holidays on Nov. 19. Held annually since 1992, Home for the Holidays has placed more than 10,000 animals.

Shifts are three hours. Anyone interested should contact GLFD

GLFD raised more than $100,000 for the SPCA in 2016 with Project Ruffway to purchase a new Emergency Rescue Vehicle that will provide on-site medical care throughout North Texas when the SPCA needs to be on site for animal hoarding or animal cruelty cases.

The vehicle has been ordered and scheduled to arrive this month. The vehicle, similar to the one shown in the photo, will prominently display the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas logo as it travels around North Texas rescuing and providing medical care for animals.


Cocktail Friday: In time for Thanksgiving, the Mayflower

Posted on 11 Nov 2016 at 1:43pm

7266e3de-mayflower-drinkWe’re on the cusp of Thanksgiving — less than two weeks away — and the weather is beginning to reflect that, with cooler temps. Our palates change too around this time, and it’s even shown in the drink recipes that are emerging. Jonathan Bona, bar manager at the Pyramid Restaurant inside the Fairmont Hotel (he was recently at The Four Seasons), has created this potent potable, and shared the recipe. Or you can ask Jonathan for it directly at the Pyramid, where it will be offered throughout November.

1 oz. Remy Martin VSOP cognac

1/2 oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel rum

1/2 oz. apple cinnamon shrub (chefs Brandon and Chris Dempsey’s new D&D Shrubs company makes one)

2 dashed Angostura bitters

Making it: Combine all ingredients in a mixing breaker and stir with a bar spoon for 30 seconds. Rim a rocks glass with cinnamon and Demerara sugar. Strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a fan of apple slices.


Election Day a mixed bag for LGBT candidates

Posted on 11 Nov 2016 at 10:58am

Oregon Gov.-elect Kate Brown, left, Houston District Attorney-elect Kim Ogg, center, and Austin City Councilman-elect Jimmy Flannigan were among the openly-LGBT people elected on Tuesday

Oregon elects first openly-bisexual governor; 6 of 8
openly-LGBT candidates in Texas won


Lisa Keen | Keen News Service

Kate Brown became the first openly-LGBT person to be elected governor in the U.S., winning the office in Oregon on Nov. 8. Elsewhere in the nation, there were only a few scattered “firsts” to be celebrated. But 61 percent of 188 openly-LGBT candidates this year won their races.

By comparison, in 2012, out of 152 LGBT candidates on the ballot, 77 percent — 118 — won, while 22 percent — 33 — lost.

In addition to Brown, the winners included Leslie Herod, the first openly-LGBT African-American elected to the Colorado House; Carlos Guillermo Smith, the first openly-LGBT Latino to be elected to the Florida state legislature, representing Orlando; and Sam Park, the first openly-gay man to be elected to the Georgia legislature.

All six incumbent LGBT members of Congress won re-election, but other candidates for federal office had tough fights: None of the 12 newcomers seeking seats in Congress won. Two sought U.S. Senate seats, and 10 sought House seats.

Businesswoman Angie Craig was expected to beat a Trump-like radio talk show host for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional district, but fell short 45 percent to Jason Lewis’ 47 percent, while 8 percent of the vote went to an independent candidate.

Candidates for state house and senate seats fared much better: 74 percent of the 89 candidates won. Among the winners was newcomers Daniel Hernandez, the aide who helped save the life of then-U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords during a 2011 shooting incident in Tucson. Hernandez won a seat to the Arizona State House.

Toni Atkins, who was term-limited out of her position as speaker of the California Assembly, won a seat in the state senate.

Among the incumbents to win re-election was Minnesota State Rep. Karen Clark. Clark was elected in 1980 and has now been re-elected 18 times, representing the south Minneapolis area.

In local office elections, 33 out of 60 LGBT candidates won. Among them was newcomer Jimmy Flannigan who unseated an incumbent for a seat on the Austin, City Council.

And half of 16 LGBT candidates for elective judicial seats won election Tuesday. Kim Ogg beat out an incumbent to become Houston’s new district attorney. And, in Washington state, lesbian Mary Yu won re-election to her seat on the Washington Supreme Court.

But the biggest victory by far on Nov. 8 for the LGBT community was that of Kate Brown, in her first run for governor of Oregon. Brown won with 51 percent of the vote. Her Republican challenger took 44 percent, and three other candidates took the remaining 5 percent.

“Kate Brown’s win in Oregon is one for the history books,” said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Brown, a bisexual married for almost 20 years to her husband Dan Little, is the first openly-LGBT person to be elected as governor anywhere in the country. (The first LGBT person to serve as governor was Jim McGreevey, who came out as gay after being elected governor of New Jersey and then resigned from office.)

Brown has been elected as a state representative, a state senator, and twice as Oregon’s secretary of state. But she stepped into the governor’s position in 2015, after then-Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned following an ethics scandal.

Brown, 56, embraces the opportunities she has to help the LGBT community. She told the Washington Post the day after the election, “I will, within my role at the National Governors’ Association and other organizations like the Western Governors Association, continue to use that voice and my experiences as a member of the LGBT community, as well as my female voice to help us push forward as a nation.”

The 188 LGBT candidates spanned 36 states plus the District of Columbia. California had the greatest number of LGBT candidates by far, with 50; followed by Washington State with 10, and Georgia with nine.

Texas had eight LGBT candidates, six of whom won: Celia Israel and Mary Gonzalez were re-elected to state house seats; Lupe Valdez won re-election as sheriff in Dallas; Kim Ogg was elected district attorney in Houston; Jimmy Flannigan won a seat on the Austin City Council; and Steve Kirkland won his race for a district court seat in Harris County.

One candidate this year came out during his re-election campaign: North Carolina State Rep. Cecil Brockman of Greensboro publicly acknowledged being bisexual in an interview with his local paper on Nov. 3. Brockman, 32, was running unopposed for his seat in the General Assembly.

Brockman told the News & Record, “I always felt that I tried to stick up for the LGBT community, even when I wasn’t ‘out.’ I want to do more of my part, to be stronger and admit to the world that I’m actually a member of this community as well.”

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Election 2016

Posted on 11 Nov 2016 at 8:10am

Our thoughts on the day after the 2016 Presidential election


Shocked, devastated, heartbroken, angry, sad, discouraged, exhausted.

This just can’t be our country. How can we live here now? Where can we go? Should we leave our country or stay?

The feelings and questions flowed with the tears. Despair. Difficulty focusing. It feels like the sudden loss of a loved one.

How can we go on?

But then we think about the bigger picture.  We cannot yield to the forces of anger, bitterness, vengeance and vile language used by Trump and his supporters. Denial won’t work long term. The blame game won’t change the results.

We need to find support and strength to survive the next days, months and years.  It is fitting that the slogans of the Clinton campaign should become our mantra. Yes, we are “Stronger Together” and yes,  “Love Trumps Hate.”

Tuesday night as the results confirmed the awful reality that we lost, Vivienne and I remembered how we felt in 1980 when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter. We successfully stayed in relative denial until the night before his Inauguration.  It was Monday, Jan. 19, 1981, and we both had the flu.

Reagan family friend Frank Sinatra had organized a pre-inaugural show for the First Couple. We watched it, lying on the couch, while sobbing and passing a tissue box and a pan of brownies back and forth to each other.

Our actions sound comical now, but the LGBT rights movement was a far “younger” movement then and few legal rights had been won. We were just organizing politically and wondered what the setback would mean.

Worse yet, almost half of the DFW LGBT community had voted for Reagan. We were not politically unified, nor had we become an integral part of the Democratic Party because they were still cautiously considering us.
We will survive Trump because of the progress towards equality we have made since 1981. Because of 35 years of hard work, we are not starting from the same position.

The Supreme Court impact is the worst of course. We’re still trying to get our heads around that one.

Perhaps this quote might be helpful: The French philosopher Albert Camus wrote, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

We need to reach out, comfort and support each other. Then we must become more involved, ensure that those people attacked and disparaged during the Trump campaign are protected and the rights and welfare of all are secured.

Finally, we need to change our country at a very basic level. We can do this in our personal lives. We all need to see the common humanity in others, and just share and practice our basic values of goodness.

If we need to demonstrate or to march, we will march.

We can learn from our DFW LGBT community’s rich history and ensure the lessons we learned are not lost to the next generation.

So, let it be of some comfort: We survived Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes and now we’ll survive Trump.
Vivienne Armstrong and Louise Young have been a couple since they met at Colorado University — Boulder in 1971 and have devoted their entire adult lives to LGBT activism, including playing roles in the founding of North Texas’ premiere LGBT organizations. Louise Young also played a key role in the formation of the LGBT employee resource group at Texas Instruments, and later at Raytheon.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2016.


Not heading for Canada yet

Posted on 10 Nov 2016 at 8:55pm

haberman-hardyI am very disappointed by the election results. “Depressed” would be a mild description.

That said I am making some tough decisions. Do I cut and run? Or do I stay and fight?

As a young man, I did a lot of running, until I decided to fight. And since that day, I have not stopped fighting. We have gained far too much to just give up and leave. That time may come, and that prospect saddens me a great deal, but now is not that time for me.

I don’t think 50 percent of the people in our country are racist bigots. I do think a great deal of our country was unhappy with the situation they found themselves in over the past decade.

The populist appeal of that man (he who must not be named) is exactly what the Democrats used to have, but ceded to politically savvy strategists who figured things would be business as usual. They weren’t. And they won’t be anymore.

Do I think a dark side of the American populace has been empowered and uncovered? Yes. It is the same group that have always been there, but at different times in our history they have felt more or less empowered.

Do I have hope? As hard as it is to muster, yes I do.

I know that I am stronger than I ever suspected, and I believe the other 50 percent of America is as well.

There is no easy win; there is no jackpot, and there is no candidate who can be a savior. We have to do that ourselves.

We have to start by figuring out how to reach the non-racist part of the electorate who voted Republican, and we have to make the case that fairness, equality, peace and sanity can prevail. We can only do that if we stay involved and refuse to give up.

Now, I have still not processed the stunning election results from Tuesday night, and I suspect every pollster and pundit feels the same way. That will take some time and lots of coffee and perhaps some crying.

By the looks of the Canadian immigration website last night, which crashed from an overload of queries, a lot of people are considering running away. To be honest, my partner and I discussed that as well. But in the cold light of morning, I don’t think I am ready to do that.

Giving away my community, my family, my friends, my church and running away, abandoning my life and my work to live as a refugee in the Great White North is not appealing. (Nothing against Canada; I love your country and your poutine, but I am not done with America just yet.)

The American experiment has come too far to be destroyed by one election.

And to those who do not accept the results of the election I say this, remember how appalled we were when Trump said he would not accept the results? If we don’t, we simply prove we are petulant children, stomping our feet with our fingers in our ears screaming “la la la la la.”

That solves nothing.

We have lived through Reagan, Bush the greater and Bush the lesser, and I pray that we can live through a single term of this. It will not be easy, but having lived through police raids on gay bars, anti-war protests, civil rights marches, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the “Macarena,” in the words of Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive.”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at


Is this really going to affect us personally? The short answer is yes

Posted on 10 Nov 2016 at 8:47pm

Leslie McMurray

Tuesday night, Nov. 8, Katie and I went out and grabbed a bite to eat and got it “to go” so we could go home and watch the election results. It was supposed to be a “done deal” for Hillary.

We settled in — and then watched in horror as one state after another turned red. I couldn’t take it anymore and went to bed around 10:30, and quite literally cried myself to sleep.

This was, for me, a worst-case scenario. I am scared, I’m angry and I feel let down by people who I thought cared about their fellow human beings. But those of us on the left side of the political spectrum vastly underestimated the anger of uneducated white America.

The backlash over the last eight years and the ever-increasing “encroachment” of LGBT, immigrant and racial equality has apparently made enough of them mad enough to hurl a flaming dumpster at the system.

I personally don’t believe they think Trump will make their lives better. But they damn well believe Trump will make the establishment pay dearly.

Facebook was hard to take. I unfriended a number of people. I truly feel that if you vote for Trump, that is an act that is incompatible with being my friend.

This isn’t political difference of opinion; I welcome that. This is about my safety, my health and the ability to marry the woman I love. If you deny me those things, you are not my friend.

I used to work in Sacramento on a news/talk station (among others) and on their site Wednesday morning, the host had made a post about the election and asking listeners their reaction. A man named Eric P. (A white male heterosexual Trump supporter) commented: “Tax rates notwithstanding, is this really going to affect us personally?”

That sentence sums up white male hetero privilege in a nutshell.

No, Eric, Trump may not affect you personally, but for many others you never give a moment’s thought to, hell yes it affects us!

Let me explain a few ways how:

  • My dear friend Ethel, with whom I worked closely in Houston for five years, was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She was in tears at the thought of Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, since no insurance company would cover her without it. She doesn’t want to die. I don’t want her to either.
  • I am transgender. Prior to the ACA, I was unable to get health insurance of any kind. That’s personal.
  • A trans male student, Gavin Grimm, has a case before the Supreme Court that now will be moot. Gavin just wants to go to the bathroom in the boys’ room at school. Now, because of Trump winning, he probably won’t be able to.
  • It’s extremely likely the federal protections for LGBT employees will be stripped away. New Vice President Pence has a deep-seated hatred of the LGBT community and a track record as governor of Indiana to back it up. That affects a lot of people personally.
  • Title IX and Title VII may also be weakened with more protections against sex discrimination claims and the floodgates for more anti-transgender laws will swing open. Add in Mr. Trump’s promise to reverse the executive orders of President Obama, which could end protection for transgender employees in the federal government and their contractors.
  • Parents of trans kids are trying to explain to them what happened. Many of these kids are in hysterics. Losing a child to suicide because they feel the president hates them is pretty “personal,” Eric.
  • African-American people seeing the KKK openly celebrating affects them personally.
  • Immigrants who are in the country legally on a green card face uncertain futures. That’s personal, Eric.
  • My 9-5 job, Eric, is helping people with HIV navigate the confusing world of health insurance. My clients are scared, I hold them in my arms and reassure them as best I can. They are afraid without the ACA, they will be uninsurable. That affects them personally, Eric.
  • Parents who raise their children to not be bullies, to be honest, to respect other people are at a loss as to what to tell their children when a dishonest, mysogynistic, xenophobic bully is now the president. That’s personal.
  • My own daughter called me this morning; she is a white, female heterosexual mother of three children who feels so let down. She was angry. Her two daughters, ages 5 and 7, had come home from school telling her that they didn’t want the girl to win because she killed people. Who at that school is telling that to a 7-year-old? That affects people personally.
  • I used to be a morning show radio disc jockey. But if video ever surfaced of my saying what Trump said with Billy Bush, I’d have been fired. Hell, the manager of a Motel 6 who said that would be fired. Pretty much anyone who worked for a company with an ounce of decency would never tolerate that kind of language and behavior from one of their employees.

Ands yet, we put that in the White House? Seriously America?

So there you are Eric P. — a whole lot of people who are deeply, personally affected in horrific ways by the specter of a President Trump who intends on keeping his promises. We wish the only worry we had was tax rates. Lucky you!

For us, our best hope is that Trump ends up being the same horse’s ass as president as he was in private life and that his campaign promises mean the same as those he made to countless contractors and employees.

Oh, and Eric — I hope your taxes go through the roof.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at


Completely not gay former Congressman Aaron Schock indicted on 24 counts

Posted on 10 Nov 2016 at 2:27pm

Not gay former Rep. Aaron Schock photographed by his not gay photographer and companion while Congress was in session

Former Congressman Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), who is still not gay, was indicted on 24 counts including fraud, over-billing the government for auto mileage, theft of government funds, making false statements and filing false income tax returns.

The flamboyant Schock came to national attention when he redecorated his congressional office to look like a set from Downton Abbey. Not gay.

Schock also spent quite a bit of time away from Congress, usually on skiing, surfing or other adventure holidays with his also totally not gay male photographer, who was there only to save the congressman’s adventures for posterior, I mean posterity. Some of those pictures showed off Schock’s six-pack abs and landed him on magazine covers. But not gay magazines, because he’s completely not gay.

Schock resigned from Congress in March 2015, the same day he was subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating his finances.

Some of the charges against him carry a 20-year sentence, according to the Chicago Tribune.