Pet of the Week


China is an 8-year-old Chinese Crested-Terrier mix. This sweet little guy weighs 11 pounds and was found as a stray. He’s somewhat timid but warms up quickly.

Dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are available for adoption from Operation Kindness, 3201 Earhart Drive (near Keller Springs Road and Midway Road), Carrollton. The no-kill shelter is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 8 p.m. Thursday) and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Cost to adopt is $110 for cats and kittens and $135 for dogs and puppies. The cost includes spay or neuter surgery, microchipping, vaccinations and other tests. Those 65 and above and those who adopt two pets at the same time get a $20 discount. For more information call 972-418-PAWS, or visit www.operationkindness.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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Deaths


John Eric Smith died Wednesday, Feb. 14 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Smith was born Oct. 27, 1961, to Rodolph and the late Pauline Smith of Ardmore, Okla. He attended Oklahoma State University and, in 1980, moved to Dallas where he lived until his death.

Smith had a passion for life and lived it to the fullest. His travels took him to Mexico, Europe, Asia and China. He could turn a pile of dirt into a magnificent garden and a couple of eggs into a five-star souffl?. He excelled at his work as a sales associate for Boardwalk Porsche and the family wishes to thank all those associates with Boardwalk that provided help and assistance in this time of loss.

Smith is survived by his father; his sisters, Debbie and Deanna, and their spouses; his brother, Randy, and his spouse; and numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived by many close friends in the Dallas area, including Thomas Maciula and Dr. Charles “Fish” Greenfield, who were treasured friends that continually lifted Smith’s spirits and will miss him deeply; and his former partner of nearly 10 years, John E. “Kip” Whiteside, who will miss him beyond words.

A service of remembrance celebrating Smith’s life was held on Monday, Feb. 19, in his hometown of Ardmore. Knowing Smith’s love of a great party, friends and family will gather at Ciudad, D.F. on Sunday, March 4, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to laugh, love and reminisce about this wonderful guy and his love of life.

To honor Smith, a contribution to The AIDS Resource Center of Dallas or The American Heart Association would be appreciated.



Dennis Franklin Strickland, 40, of Dallas died Wednes-day, Feb. 14 in Dallas.

He was born in Lafayette, La., to Frank Strickland and Wanda (Jones) Watkins, and moved to Stillwater, Okla., at age 3. He graduated third in his class from Perkins-Tryon High School in 1984, after spending his high school years being active in band and the yearbook staff. He was president of the marching, concert and jazz bands, and was band reporter, and was yearbook photographer and co-editor. He was also a member of the student council, the student senate, the science club and the gifted and talented program.

Strickland graduated magna cum laude from Oklahoma State University with degrees in hotel, restaurant and business administration. He worked as a postal employee for eight years while in college, and he worked as an executive sales agent and supervisor’s assistant for the Hertz Worldwide Reservation Center in Oklahoma City.

Strickland moved to Dallas in 1994 and worked for six years as a revenue accounting agent for Greyhound Bus Lines in the charter revenue areas. He later transferred to Drive Time Car Sales where he worked in the accounts payable and accounts receivable departments.

He touched many people’s hearts and was known for his smile and his “everything will be okay” attitude. He had dignity, love and a kind-hearted manner that many people will truly miss.

Strickland is survived by his parents, Frank Strickland, Mary Roebuck, Wanda Watkins and her husband, Walter; four sisters, Anita Roberts and her husband, Steve, Brenda Robertson, Donna Charpis and her husband, Ron, and Regina Strickland.

Services were held Saturday, Feb. 17, at Lost Creek United Methodist Church near Stillwater, with Pastor Max Rudd officiating. Burial followed in Perkins Cemetery. Arrangements were under the direction of Strode Funeral Home.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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R.I. Attorney General: Recognize Massachusetts’ gay marriages

By Staff Reports

In response to a request from the state’s Commissioner of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch has issued a six-page legal opinion saying that the state will recognize marriages between couples of the same sex performed in Massachusetts.

“It’s terrific news for state employees who will receive the same benefits and protections for their families as their straight co-workers who married in Massachusetts or elsewhere. It’s our hope and expectation that other Rhode Island employers will follow suit,” said Michele Granda, staff attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a New England organization that focuses on providing legal advice and representation in LGBT rights cases.

Granda was lead attorney in the Massachusetts lawsuit, Cote-Whitacre v. Department of Public Health, which made it possible for Rhode Island same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts starting in October of 2006.

“We applaud Attorney General Lynch for refusing to make a “‘gay exception’ to well-established principles of law,” said Granda. “His leadership on this issue brings peace of mind to married couples and clear direction to their employers.”

In his letter, dated Feb. 20, Lynch said his decision was based on the “full faith and credit” clause of the United States Constitution. That clause, which orders each state to recognize legal contracts entered into in other states, was the basis for the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1969 decision overturning laws that banned interracial marriages.

“We advise the Board of Governors that it should accord marital status to its employees who were lawfully married in Massachusetts under the ruling of that state’s highest court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health,” Lynch said in the letter.

Wendy Becker, who was a plaintiff in Cote-Whitacre, is a state employee who will be directly affected by the opinion. She and her partner, Mary Norton, married in Massachusetts Oct. 8.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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Gallup survey shows voters more accepting

By Associated Press

NEW YORK A new Gallup survey confirms that a majority of Americans claim they will be willing to vote for a woman or a black for president next year. But many say they will still raise questions about voting for a well-qualified Mormon or 72-year-old or someone who has been divorced twice.

Surprisingly, nearly as many say they would vote for a gay candidate as say they would vote for a 72-year-old.

The most censored candidate would be an atheist.

Conservatives express more misgivings about candidates from all of the categories except the age question, where they are more disapproving of voting for someone 72 or over.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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Celebrity Watch

C&W’s Chesney: “‘I’m not gay. Really.’



Kenny Chesney

Country singer Kenny Chesney this week denied rumors that he is gay in an interview that aired Sunday on “60 Minutes.”

Speculation about Chesney’s sexual orientation had run rampant since the fall of 2005 when, four months after they were married in the U.S. Virgin Islands in May, actress Renee Zellweger filed for an annulment on grounds that he had committed “fraud.”

“It’s not true. Period. Maybe I should have come out and said, “‘No, I’m not [gay],’ but I didn’t want to draw any more attention to it,” the 38-year-old country singer said. “I didn’t have to prove to anybody that I wasn’t [gay]. I didn’t feel like I really did.”

Zellweger later issued a statement saying the term “fraud” was “simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny’s character.”

Chesney said in the Sunday interview, “We thought the least harmful [stated reason] was fraud because it [is] kind of broad … doesn’t specify,” Chesney says. “And boy … we were wrong.”

“The only fraud that was committed was me thinking that I knew what it was like … that I really understood what it was like to be married, and I really didn’t,” he added.

Chesney also said he had truly loved Zellweger, and that he had no regrets.

Bellucci, Schumacher find “‘Centricity’

You know it’s true gorgeous women love to hang out with gay men.

Just check out the filmography of openly gay director Joel Schumacher. From Julia Roberts (“Dying Young”) to Nicole Kidman (“Batman Forever”) to Isabella Rossellini (“Cousins”) to Cate Blanchett (“Veronica Guerin”), many of the screen’s loveliest ladies have lined up for the opportunity to work with this filmmaker.

Now Schumacher will keep his streak going with the radiant Monica Bellucci, whose work ranges from the glossy (“The Matrix Reloaded”) to the gritty (“Irreversible”) to the gory (“The Passion of the Christ”).

The two will collaborate on “Centricity,” a drama whose plot is being kept very hushhush. Look for the film to hit theaters and for Bellucci to look like a million bucks before the end of 2007.

“‘Gilmore Girls’ creator brings Posey to TV

In what promises to be the most fortuitous pairing since peanut butter and chocolate, hilarious and banter-friendly writer and “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is collaborating with hilarious and banter-friendly actress Parker Posey for a new TV series.

Posey will star in “The Return of Jezebel James,” about a newly single, infertile children’s book editor who seeks out her estranged younger sister to carry a child for her.

The luminously witty Posey has reportedly resisted previous overtures to star in a series, but “Jezebel” (which Sherman-Palladino will co-executive produce with her husband, Daniel Palladino) apparently struck her fancy. With any luck, the show will sail through pilot season and make it onto one of the networks’ fall schedules.

Saint-Laurent doc cause for “‘Celebration’

While many celebrities often seem all too eager to sign up for reality shows that make them look insane or worse anyone watching VH1′s “Shooting Sizemore”? there are still some famous folk whose images are ferociously guarded.

Take gay French fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent, whose business partner has fought for years to keep acclaimed filmmaker Oliver Meyrou’s documentary about YSL, “Celebration,” out of circulation.

The film finally had its long-awaited debut at the Berlin Film Festival, where critics noted that the doc portrays the legendary couturier as being out of it, relying on his staff to get his collections finished. With this kind of dishy heat behind it, we’re hoping some brave U.S. distributor will step up and bring “Celebration” to theaters.

Logo makes “‘Great Gay Escape’

Put 12 LGBT strangers under one roof for two months and the drama will just flow naturally, right? That’s what the producers of a new reality series for Logo are hoping.

“The Great Gay Escape,” currently casting about for its cast members, will send a dozen queer folk to an as-yet-unnamed gay travel destination to work and live together for two months, while filming every argument about doing the dishes, every secret hook-up, every “everything” for eight weeks.

There should be intrigue aplenty, since the show is from Stiletto Television, the folks that gave us “Nemesis Rising” remember, the twin gay rockers who got expelled from the Jehovah’s Witnesses? This all-queer “Real World” featuring a greater variety of ages and sexualities debuts in the fall.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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Anglican leaders: No more gay bishops, gay couple blessings

By Elizabeth A. Kennedy Associated Press

Meeting in Tanzania ends with statement criticizing Episcopal Church’s ambiguous apologies, warning of serious consequences



Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, center, walks past Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in the USA, Katharine Jefferts Schori, during the Solemn Eucharist, Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Anglican cathedral in Zanzibar. (Photo by Karel Prinsloo – AP)

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania Anglican leaders demanded Monday, Feb. 19 that the U.S. Episcopal Church unequivocally bar official prayers for gay couples and the consecration of more gay bishops.

In a statement ending a tense six-day meeting, the leaders said that past pledges by Episcopalians for a moratorium on gay unions and consecrations have been so ambiguous that they have failed to fully mend “broken relationships” in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal Church, the U.S. wing of world Anglicanism, must clarify its position by Sept. 30 or its relations with other Anglicans will remain “damaged at best,” church leaders said in the statement.

“This has consequences for the full participation of the church in the life of the communion,” the leaders said.

The meeting in Tanzania was the latest of several attempts to keep Anglicans unified despite deep rifts over how they should interpret the Bible. The long-simmering debate erupted in 2003 when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Anglican traditionalists believe gay relationships violate scripture and they have demanded that the U.S. church adhere to that teaching or face discipline.

Supporters of ordaining gays believe biblical teachings on justice and inclusion should take precedence. They have accused theological conservatives of demanding a conformity among Anglicans that never before existed.

Discussions at the closed-door gathering this past week were so highly charged that drafting the final statement for the 38 Anglican provinces took hours longer than expected.

In 2005, Anglican leaders had asked the Episcopal Church to temporarily stop electing gay bishops and developing official prayer services for same-sex couples.

The top Episcopal policy making body, called the General Convention, responded by asking church leaders to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration” of candidates for bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.”

The request is not binding.

On official prayer services, the convention rejected proposals for a church-wide liturgy for same-sex partners. However, a small number of U.S. dioceses have moved toward developing local prayers and some dioceses have allowed priests to conduct the ceremonies privately.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the communion, does not have direct authority to force a compromise. He said the requests contained in the document released Monday “will certainly fall very short of resolving all the disputes, but will provide a way of moving forward with dignity.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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World Briefs

By Rex Wockner

Colombian high court rules for gay couples regarding property, inheritance rights

Same-sex couples who have lived together for at least two years have the same property and inheritance rights as common-law opposite-sex couples, Colombia’s Constitutional Court declared Feb. 8.

In an 8-1 decision, the justices said the law governing such rights for heterosexual couples was unconstitutional to the extent it excluded gay couples.

The gay group Colombia Diversa had asked the court for the determination.

Italian government sends civil union bill to Parliament; measure expected to pass

The government of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi finalized its civil union legislation Feb. 8 and sent it to Parliament for a vote.

The parliamentary coalition aligned with the ruling party is expected to provide enough votes for the measure to pass.

The proposed law applies to both gay and straight couples, and grants rights in areas such as health care, social benefits, pensions, inheritance, rental contracts, and hospital and prison visitation.

Inheritance rights would apply only to relationships of at least nine years’ duration and rental rights to those that have lasted at least three years. The amount of time after which pension rights would kick in is not yet specified.

Ukrainian Parliament human rights chief once again denounces gays

The Ukrainian Parliament’s human-rights chief denounced gays again on Feb. 9, reported Kiev’s Our World Gay and Lesbian Center.

Leonid Grach, head of the Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations, said: “My colleagues and I in Parliament have to defend society from infringements upon morality and not admit into the consciousness and souls of people of any age the thought that the state is on the side of the people who are sowing debauchery, propagandizing for dissoluteness [or] sexual permissiveness, or bringing the abomination of seduction into society. [The] state must protect society from evil, from violence, including such evil as homosexuality, lesbianism and the like.”

Our World, which translated the comments, responded, “Such public statements by a high-ranking politician whose duty it is to protect human rights are simply inadmissible in civilized democratic society.”

The center asked activists in other nations to alert their governments to the situation and write protest letters to Grach and Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko.

Last November, Grach called homosexuality “an anomaly that is caused by the amorality and depravity of man,” Our World said.

Ontario’s gay deputy premier to marry partner of 18 months in August

The deputy premier of the Canadian province of Ontario, George Smitherman, will marry his partner, chocolate company manager Christopher Peloso, on Aug. 5, the Toronto Star reported.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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Health Listings

Friday

STD Screening, $50 for gonorrhea and chlamydia, free syphlis test, Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, appointments available by calling 214-528-2336; HIV Healing Imagery Group, 6 p.m., Hope Counseling Center, call 214-351-5657; Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, free support group, 8-9:30 p.m., Baylor University Medical Center, Truett Hospital Room 1115A, call Lisa at 794-4977 or Baylor at 214-820-7676; Compulsive Eaters Anonymous, 7 p.m., Eastridge Park Christian Church, 2701 N. Town East Blvd., Mesquite, 214-321-2504.

Saturday

HIV/AIDS Support Group for African American Men and Women, 10 a.m.-noon, St. George’s Episcopal Church, 1729 S. Beckley, 214-371-1900; AIDS Bereavement Therapy & Support Group, 11 a.m., 214-559-0688; Lesbian Group, 1 p.m., Counseling Institute of Irving, 1300 Walnut Hill #200, 972-380-7320; Overeaters Anonymous, gay and lesbian group, 5 p.m., Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs, 214-488-3301; Support Group for Lesbians in Irving Area, 1 p.m., 1300 Walnut Hill Suite 200, 972-550-8369; Compulsive Eaters Anonymous, 10 a.m., Eastridge Park Christian Church, 2701 N. Town East Blvd., Mesquite, 214-321-2504.

Sunday

Support Group for Parents and Adult Siblings of PWAs, 1 p.m., Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Rd., 214-559-4899; Survivors of Incest Anonymous-Lesbian Group, 6-8 p.m., 972-644-6906.

Monday

STD Screening, $50 for gonorrhea and chalmydia, free for syphilis, 3:30-6 p.m., Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, 214-528-2336; HIV Testing, anonymous/confidential, $20 fee, 3:30-6 p.m., Rapid HIV test $75, Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, 214-528-2336; HIV-Positive Support Group, 1-2:30 p.m.,6:30-8 p.m. Legacy Counseling Center, 4054 McKinney, Suite 212, 214-520-6308;; Lab Draws, (physician order required, appointment necessary), Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, 214-528-2336; Support Group for African American Family Members and Significant Others, 6:30-8:30 p.m., AIDS Interfaith Network, 1005 W. Jefferson, Suite 301, 214-559-4899; Grupo de Apoyo-Hispano, 7 p.m., Parkland Hospital Outpatient Clinic, 214-590-5415; Living Positive Group, 6:30 – 8 p.m., Hope Counseling Center, 5910 Cedar Springs, 214-351-5657; Gay/Lesbian Overeaters Anonymous, 7 p.m., Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania, Fort Worth, 817-847-9648.

Tuesday

Continued Care Support Group, for any GLBT person who has been in a substance abuse treatment center or psychiatric hospital in the past year, 6-8 p.m., Pride Institute of Texas, call Jay Lewis at 214-207-5903; Lesbian Group, 7 p.m. at Wellness in the Parks Counseling Center, 5217 McKinney, call 214-521-9019; Recovery Substance Abuse Group, 10 a.m., AIDS Services of Dallas, 800 N. Lancaster, call 214-941-0523; Couples Supporting Couples, group for HIV-positive male couples, 7 p.m., St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, 6525 Inwood, call 214-559-4899; Gay & Lesbian Group, 7:30 p.m., Counseling Institute of Irving, 1300 Walnut Hill #200, call 972-380-7320; HIV-Positive Support Group, semi-monthly, 6-8 p.m., Legacy Counseling Center, 4054 McKinney, Suite 212, call 214-520-6308; STD Screening, $50 for gonorrhea and chlamydia, free syphlis test, Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, appointments available by calling 214-528-2336; Overeaters Anonymous, gay and lesbian group, 7 p.m., 4300 MacArthur, Suite 200, call 214-488-3301; Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, free support group, 7-8:30 p.m., Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, 5324 Northwest Highway, Upstairs Room 4, call Lisa at 214-794-4977; HIV-Positive Education & Support Group, 12:30 p.m. at AIDS Outreach Center, 801 W. Cannon, Fort Worth, 817-535-1113.

Wednesday

STD Screening, $50 for gonorrhea and chalmydia, free syphlis test, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 3:30-6 p.m., Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, 214-528-2336; HIV Testing, anonymous/confidential, $20, Rapid HIV test $75, 10 a.m. to noon, 3-7 p.m., Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, call 214-528-2336; HIV Testing and Counseling, Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs, call 214-944-1050; Lab Draws, (physician order required, appointment necessary), 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, call 214-528-2336; African-American Male Support Group, at Bluitt-Flowers Health Center, conference room A or B, 6:30-8 p.m., call 214-421-4343; Project Esperanza, Spanish support group, 6-8 p.m., call Laura Trujillo Koster at 214-526-1704; Living with HIV Support Group, 10:30 a.m., Veteran’s Medical Center, 4500 S. Lancaster Road, call 972-376-5451 ext. 7253; HIV/AIDS Support Group, 2 p.m., Parkland Hospital Outpatient Clinic, call 214-590-5536; Bereavement Group, 6-8:30 p.m., Legacy Counseling Center, 4054 McKinney, Suite 212, call 214-520-6308; Co-Dependents Anonymous Newcomers Meeting, 7:30 p.m., St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, 6525 Inwood, call 214-766-8939; Co-Dependents Anonymous Group, 7:30 p.m., Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, 6525 Inwood, call 214-766-8939; Coming Out Group, 7-8 p.m., free but donations requested for AIDS Resource Center food pantry, call Ron Wilkinson, Ph.D. at 214-522-9909; AIDS Bereavement Group, 7:30-9 p.m., Hope Counseling Center, 5910 Cedar Springs Rd., call 214-351-5657 for intake; Lesbian Support Groups, 5:30-7 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m., Hope Counseling Center, 5910 Cedar Springs, call 214-351-5657 for intake; Living Positive Group, 6-7:30 p.m., Hope Counseling Center, 5910 Cedar Springs, call 214-351-5657 for intake; Sexual Compulsivity Group, 5-6:30 p.m., Hope Counseling Center, 5910 Cedar Springs, call 214-351-5657 for intake.

Thursday

STD Screening, $50 for gonorrhea and chalmydia, free syphlis test, 3:30-8 p.m., Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, 214-528-2336; Renaissance III, group providing AIDS information and services for gay African American men, 2606 MLK Jr. Blvd, Suite 203, call for times or other information, 214-421-4343; HIV Testing, anonymous/confidential, $20, Rapid HIV test $75, 10 a.m. to noon, 3:30-8 p.m., Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, call 214-528-2336; Lab Draws, (physician order required, appointment necessary), Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center, 4012 Cedar Springs, call 214-528-2336; HIV-Positive Therapy Group for Women, 11 a.m.-noon, Legacy Counseling Center, 4054 McKinney, Suite 212, call 214-520-6308; The Group, for black men who are HIV-positive. 7-9 p.m., every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month. 2900 Live Oak Street, call 214-868-7315 for information; General Issues Group for Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals, 6:30-8 p.m., Hope Counseling Center, 5910 Cedar Springs, call 214-351-5657 for intake; Diabetes & HIV Support Group, semi-monthly, 1-2 p.m., Legacy Counseling Center, 4054 McKinney, Suite 212, call 214-520-6308; Compulsive Eaters Anonymous, 7 p.m., Eastridge Park Christian Church, 2701 N. Town East Blvd., Mesquite, 214-321-2504; Bethany HIV Support Group, 7 p.m., Bethany Presbyterian Church, call 214-823-2317; HIV-AIDS Support Group, 7 p.m., Parkland Hospital Outpatient Clinic, call 214-590-5536; HIV Positive Support Group, 7 p.m., Bethany Presbyterian Church, 4523 Cedar Springs, call 214-944-1050; HIV/AIDS Group, in Irving Area, 7 p.m. at 1300 Walnut Hill Suite 200, call 972-550-8369. Chakra, Energy, Mysticism & Healing Class, 1237 East Executive Dr., Richardson, 972-523-8080.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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Fighting back on Valentine’s Day

By Leslie Robinson – General Gayety

Yolo County Clerk-Recorder takes a stand for same-sex couples

For some couples across the country, Valentine’s Day rituals include flowers, chocolate and rejection. That is, each year on Feb. 14, same-sex couples enter a government office and try to apply for a marriage license. And each year they leave with a handful of nothing.

But not this year in Woodland, Calif. Yolo County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley handed out a “Certificate of Inequality” to the gay couples who came to her counter. The certificates may’ve been short on legality, but they were long on sympathy.

For four years Oakley has denied marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples: “I’m the one who stands behind the desk and does it who says “‘no’ because it’s so odious, I can’t ask anyone on my staff to do it. And every year it gets harder,” Oakley told PlanetOut.com a couple of weeks before Valentine’s Day. Poor thing; we’ve given this married, straight woman a reason to loathe Valentine’s Day.

This year Oakley pondered how to make the experience more palatable, and hit on the idea of giving applicants “a takeaway.”

So on the big day, she dispensed hand-signed documents reading, “Your choice of marriage partner displeases some people whose displeasure is, apparently, more important than principles of equality.”

That has to be the least mushy Valentine’s Day sentiment I’ve ever heard. She may not be descended from her, but Freddie Oakley has a lot of Annie Oakley’s independent spirit. The major difference is Freddie does her sharp shooting with her tongue.

“If people hadn’t stood up for women’s rights 35, 40 years ago, I would not have the life I had,” she told The Orange County Register. “At some point, the principle has to be more important than personal comfort.”

I thought the best thing about the day after Valentine’s Day would be half-price chocolate, but reading her words was even better.

Oakley appears to be the epitome of a straight ally as she stands up for gay equality, even though it could cost her. She’s received gobs of unfriendly e-mail since announcing her plan, and it’s possible angry locals could try to recall her from her position.

Before Valentine’s Day she said the certificates wouldn’t be printed using public funds, and that they reflect her own view. But on Feb. 14, about 40 people opposed to gay marriage gathered outside the Yolo County government center, protesting what they called Oakley’s abuse of her office.

They might’ve been right. And when the law finally allows same-sex marriage and a county clerk objects by issuing a “Certificate of Degeneracy” along with a marriage license, it’ll be our turn to protest his abuse of his office. I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I think of people like Kathleen Luna and Claire Allen, together 21 years, who received a Certificate of Inequality and consoling words from Oakley.

“It means the world to me that Freddie did this,” said Luna. “Each year, you think you’re going to be immune to it, but you get up there and you break down in tears.”

It would be easy to assume Freddie Oakley is anything but rebellious, when you hear she has been hitched to the same guy for 37 years, raised two daughters, and calls herself an evangelical Christian. But in fact, she’s rebelling in the name of the same thing Jesus did:

“When I face Jesus and have to account for my errors, I want to tell him that I erred on the side of love,” she said.

Read more of Leslie Robinson’s columns at www.GeneralGayety.com

E-mail LesRobinsn@aol.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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Wanna bet?

By Arnold Wayne Jones – Staff Writer


I know far too much about the Oscars for it to be healthy.

People call me long distance all the time to settle bets and perform for their friends like a show pony. I lap it up. But it is not a good thing.

And bizarrely enough, so much knowledge about past ceremonies makes predicting the awards a chore. For instance, no woman in her 50s has ever won best actress, and whenever four foreigners have been nominated against a sole American, the American always wins. But this year, Meryl Streep is the only 50-something American in the category, so one statistic is gonna fall. But which one? The safe bet: So long, patriotic Academy Helen Mirren gets her final coronation. (Too bad, because no one deserves it more than Judi Dench’s deliciously wicked turn in “Notes on a Scandal.”)

But what among the other categories are great odds and which are sucker bets? Read on:

It doesn’t help the odds-making that this was one of the lamest years for movies in recent memory or at least, many of the better films (“Miss Potter,” “Perfume”) were ignored.

Was “Babel” one of the five best films of 2006? No, but don’t write it off completely for best picture. Even though it seems like a sure thing that Martin Scorsese will finally win as best director, the notoriously squeamish Academy tends to back away from blood-and-guts shoot-’em-ups in the top category unless sanctified by war and even then they often blink (“Saving Private Ryan” lost to “Shakespeare in Love,” remember). So don’t be too sure about “The Departed” getting best picture. That might open the door for “Little Miss Sunshine” to squeak by with the win even over the pretentious “Babel.”

It is nice that Mexican filmmakers, including “Babel” director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrritu, “Children of Men’s” Alfonso Cuaron and “Pan’s Labyrinth’s” Guillermo del Toro made such inroads into the U.S. market. But probably only del Toro will take the stage as a winner for best foreign language film.

Forest Whitaker looks to be a lock, but if there’s one major category upset in the offing, watch Peter O’Toole sneak in with a victory as best actor (unlikely, but possible).

Other than Mirren, the one can’t-miss bet is supporting actress for “Dreamgirls” powerhouse Jennifer Hudson. If she loses early in the evening possibly to shrill pageant-child Abigail Breslin, or tortured illegal alien Adriana Barraza all bets are off.

Less certain is Hudson co-star Eddie Murphy for supporting actor. Based on prior honors, he seems the probable victor, but his low-brow “Norbit” may have scared off voters worried about anointing a hack for his one good career choice in a decade.

So who could win? Alan Arkin, a popular character actor contending with his third nomination, may call in some favors and walk about with the trophy. And “The Departed’s” Mark Wahlberg and “Little Children’s” Jackie Earle Haley would make for better breathtaking television.

The only openly gay person among the major nominees is Melissa Etheridge, who wrote a spirited best song entry from “An Inconvenient Truth.” She’s up against perpetual song contender Randy Newman and three numbers from the uber-gay “Dreamgirls.” So who is a good bet? Beats me, but I’m pulling for Missy. (If she wins, I bet she gives host Ellen DeGeneres a big wet one on the lips.)

So will “Truth” go two for two (it’s also nominated for best documentary feature). Not if the “Jesus Camp” camp has anything to say about it or “Deliver Us from Evil.” Hmmm: A choice between a wonky global warming lecture from the man who couldn’t beat George Bush, or one of two profiles of religious hypocrisy (one with a still-closeted Ted Haggard, one with a pedophiliac priest)? Doesn’t anyone make upbeat documentaries? More Academy members have probably see Al Gore’s film, but you have to see all of them to vote in this category. Still, smart money is on “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Despite the best adapted screenplay nomination for “Borat,” don’t expect to see Sacha Baron Cohen pull out an acceptance speech. That award will probably go to “The Departed,” though “Notes on a Scandal” warrants it more. “Little Miss Sunshine” is the favorite to win best original screenplay, though this could be the bone they throw to “Babel.”

If you’re looking to win the office pool in a tie-breaker, best animated short will be a toss-up between “The Little Matchgirl” and “The Danish Poet,” and live action short probably goes to the moving “Binta and the Great Idea” over the hysterical musical parody “West Bank Story.”

If over-hyped but leaden movies like “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Blood Diamond” walk away with anything more than minor technical nods (and even then they don’t deserve any), I predict that filmmaking as we know it will be over.

At least until next year’s Oscar race heats up.

Arnold Wayne Jones

On Sunday, Jones gives more Oscar picks on Lambda Weekly, airing noon on 89.3-FM. The Academy Awards ceremony airs on Ch. 8 at 7 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 23, 2007

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