Texas Democrats add four pro-LGBT resolutions to platform

While we’re on the subject of political party platforms in Texas, looks like the Democrats approved four pro-LGBT resolutions over the weekend during their state convention in Corpus Christi.

It’s safe to say the Lone Star State has gotten yet another black eye, albeit deserved, in national LGBT circles over anti-gay language in the state GOP platform. So let’s hope some of those same bloggers will pick up this positive story, but don’t count on it. After all, the idea that everyone in Texas wants to lock up “homosexuals” makes for better headlines.

Anyhow, according to the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, the four pro-LGBT resolutions that were adopted at the convention call for (1) a state employment nondiscrimination policy that includes LGBT protections, (2) competitive insurance benefits for LGBT employees at Texas universities, (3) accurate birth certificates for same-sex parents of adopted children and (4) policies that would prohibit bullying and harassment in Texas public schools.

TSDC also reports that the new Texas Democratic platform, for the first time ever, now uses the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender” in calling for the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies.

“The 2010 State Democratic Convention proved beyond a reasonable doubt that LGBT Texans have a place at the table of the Democratic Party,” said TSDC President Dan Graney. “As for the Republican Party of Texas, it might as well call itself the Republican Party of Uganda because of all the hate and bigotry that is dripping from its platform.”

Here’s the full press release from TSDC:


Delegates meeting at the Texas Democratic Convention this past weekend in Corpus Christi adopted a platform and resolutions that champion gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality and nondiscrimination on a variety of levels. This is in stark contrast to the State Republican Party Convention two weeks ago, which adopted a platform that denounces homosexuality as “tearing at the fabric of society” and calls for the felony prosecution of anyone who performs a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple in Texas.

For the first time ever, the 2010 State Democratic Party platform uses the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender” in calling for the repeal of discriminatory laws and policies against the LGBT community.  The platform also advocates for anti-bullying policies in public schools, diversity in institutions for higher learning,
passage of the Employment Non Discrimination Act, increased education initiatives and services to address HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, an end to discrimination in the state foster care system, strong enforcement of both federal and state hate crimes laws and repeal of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.

All four pro-equality resolutions that were proposed by Equality Texas and that passed numerous senate district and county conventions also were adopted on the floor of the convention without opposition.  These resolutions included (1) a state employment nondiscrimination policy that includes LGBT protections, (2) competitive insurance benefits for LGBT employees at Texas universities, (3) accurate birth certificates for same-sex parents of adopted children and (4) policies that would prohibit bullying and harassment in Texas public schools.   Similar resolutions had been approved by previous convention resolutions committees but never made it to the floor of the convention for a vote.

Hundreds of LGBT Texans were among the 5,000 delegates and alternates who attended the convention.  The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus (TSDC), which is the official LGBT Caucus of the Texas Democratic Party, hosted a reception on June 24 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its founding.  The TSDC also held an Executive Board meeting and Caucus membership meeting at the convention, both of which were well attended.  Dan Graney of San Antonio was re-elected President, Erin Moore of Dallas was re-elected Vice President and Carol Cappa of Fort Worth and Shaun Nelson of Houston were respectively elected the new Secretary and Treasurer of the Caucus.  Graney and Moore will represent the TSDC on the State Democratic Executive Committee or SDEC, which is the governing body of the State Democratic Party between conventions

Also elected to the SDEC were four members of Stonewall Democrats chapters in Texas: Eli Olivarez of McAllen, Garry Brown of Austin and DeeJay Johannessen and Mary Edwards of Tarrant County.  Stonewall Democrats members were also elected to all five of the permanent committees of the convention, which includes credentials, rules, platform, resolutions and nominations.

“The 2010 State Democratic Convention proved beyond a reasonable doubt that LGBT Texans have a place at the table of the Democratic Party”, exclaimed TSDC President Dan Graney.  “As for the Republican Party of Texas, it might as well call itself the Republican Party of Uganda because of all the hate and bigotry that is dripping from its platform”, he said.

Texas Democrats are gearing up for the midterm elections this November and are hoping to elect Bill White the first Democratic governor of this state in 16 years.  The 2012 Texas Democratic Convention will take place in Houston.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Houston hate crime victim speaks out

Last week we told you about Lance Reyna, a transgender man who was beaten and robbed at knifepoint on the campus of Houston Community College a few days before the city’s Pride celebration. ABC 13 caught up with Reyna during Pride, and he’s speaking out about the incident:

“He was like, ‘Hey queer, I need you to be quiet, cooperate, and give me all your valuables,'” Reyna said.

But Reyna put up a fight.

“He punched me here and elbowed me in the same spot and by that time I’m falling to the floor,” said Reyna. “He just kept punching me and kicked me and took my wallet and ran off.”

Reyna chased after him but he got away. The attack left the student with a concussion. But that’s not what hurts him the most.

“With it being pride week this week, it makes me feel like I’m a target,” he said.

Reyna is still shaken but instead of letting fear force him into silence, he is facing adversity head on and speaking out.

“I shouldn’t have to be ashamed to walk down the street because I present myself in a different way,” Reyna said. “I feel the person I am on the inside shouldn’t be affected by how I look on the outside.”

—  John Wright

El Paso men who were kicked out of taco restaurant for kissing mark Stonewall anniversary by suing the city

Five men who were kicked out of Chico’s Taco’s in El Paso after two of them kissed last year have filed a lawsuit against the city, a security company and the restaurant, The El Paso Times reports. If you’ll remember, El Paso police threatened to charge the men under Texas’ sodomy statute, which was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

Plaintiff Carlos Diaz de Leon and lawyers with the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project announced the lawsuit at a news conference in Central El Paso.

Diaz De Leon, 32, said the other four plaintiffs are identified only as “John Does” because they fear threats or retaliation.

“I’m doing this because I want to see change, a lot of change,” Diaz De Leon said. “I would like for people to be aware of their rights, and basically, I want equality for everyone.”

Briana Stone, a lawyer and director of the Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, said the date the suit was filed coincides with the June 28, 1969, anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

—  John Wright

Local artist Infidelix gets props from adult star Buck Angel

Rodecker, aka Infidelix

Earlier this month, local gay hip-hop artist Infidelix released “The Daily Grind.” And apparently it’s made an impression on Mr. Buck Angel. So much so, that Infidelix sent me Angel’s shout-outs on the six-song release. Infidelix, aka Bryan Rodecker, actually contacted Angel as a fan, and apparently they have a lot in common.

“I told him that I did music and I’m all about not caring what people think, doing what you want and facing diversity right in the face. He’s like that too so I gave him kudos on it,” Rodecker said.

The shout-outs are quick nods of Angel giving props back. Rodecker plans to interject them into his next album along with other soundbites. It’s become a project now.

Buck likes Bryan

“Angel was really cool about it,” he said. “I’m trying to get others in all communities for soundbites. I’m even trying to get Westboro Baptist Church just so I can throw something back at ’em.”

But before his next release, Rodecker has been promoting “Grind.” He has a music video in the works and is increasing his social website presence. Rodecker was hoping to perform at Dallas Pride but missed the deadlines. However, he has an an application in to play Atlanta Pride and is waiting to hear back.

As for his new found friendship with Angel, Rodecker is glad that someone with a similar in-your-face philosophy digs what he’s doing.

“Being the first female-to-male adult star, he’s opening up a whole new genre of sexuality,” he said. “I think he’s really interesting, and I’m so for what he’s doing. I want him to use it on one of his videos as background music or something. He said he would if I came up with a good song. Heh, I could have my music in a porn!”

LISTEN: buckangel3

—  Rich Lopez

When gay Pride becomes dangerous


The scene Saturday night in the Castro.

Dallas Pride may be nowhere near as crazy as San Francisco’s, but that’s not always a bad thing.

We’re sure you’ve already heard about the shooting that left a 19-year-old dead and two others injured at SF’s Pink Saturday Pride event last weekend. Now, The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that there’s been another shooting — this time at a vigil for the deceased victim on Monday night.

The shooting was reported at about 8 p.m. near the intersection of Third Street and Quesada Avenue during a neighborhood vigil being held for 19-year-old Stephen Powell, who was shot and killed Saturday during Gay Pride in the city’s Castro District, Officer Samson Chan said.

One victim, a 21-year-old man, was shot through the cheek, Chan said, and the other victim, a 20-year-old man, was shot in the leg. Both victims were taken to the hospital. Their injuries were not expected to be life threatening.

Police don’t believe the initial shooting was a hate crime. Instead, they say it stemmed from of a personal dispute, and a suspect is now in custody.

National Pride month ends tomorrow. In San Francisco, maybe that’s a good thing.

—  John Wright

Newsweek’s list of 50 top rabbis includes gays, Dallasites

Rabbi Steve Gutow
Rabbi Steve Gutow

Newsweek released its list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America for 2010 with some interesting characters on the list. A surprising number of gay and lesbian rabbis make the list, and a couple of the rabbis are from Dallas.

Rabbi Steve Gutow is listed at No. 20 for a second year. Gutow, originally a Dallas attorney, worked in Gov. Ann Richards’ administration and went to rabbinical school after she left office. Since then, he has conducted services at Dallas LGBTA Congregation Beth El Binah a number of times and is currently president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

No. 47 on the list is Rabbi David Stern, the head rabbi at Temple Emanu-el on Northwest Highway in Dallas who has come under criticism by some members of his congregation for one particular position.

Stern will not do interfaith weddings and is clear about that position, but members of his congregation often ask him to perform them anyway. A same-sex wedding he performed at the temple in the early 1990s is often thrown in his face when he refuses to do interfaith opposite-sex marriages.

“But you married those two damn lesbians,” people tell him.

“Yes, and they were both Jewish,” he tells them.

Stern is straight.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum takes the No. 25 position. Her New York City congregation, Beit Simchat Torah, is the largest LGBTA synagogue. For High Holidays, they rent out the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in Manhattan to hold services.

Rabbi Elliot Dorff is No. 43. He contributed to the book “Torah Queeries,” which provides an LGBT perspective on the first five books of the Bible and has written on medical ethics for gays and lesbians. He made the list because he chairs the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for Conservative Judaism, which has become much more liberal under his guidance.

—  David Taffet

Uptown’s Aurora restaurant to close

Avner Samuel

Aurora, the pricey but delicious Oak Lawn restaurant owned by Avner Samuel, is closing at the end of July.

Samuel opened the French-inpsired bistro, with few tables, high prices and fancy cuisine, seven years ago. It got raves (including from me) for its menu, decor and service, but never generated the month-wait-for-a-table buzz it might have deserved. (It wasn’t much more expensive than comparable restaurants, but had a reputation as exorbitant.)

It has re-made itself, most recently with a bargain lunch menu (under $20) that I loved — it’s just down the block. But Samuel will move on to other things now that his lease is expiring. Stay tuned on what those are.

Samuel got his break at the Mansion and, alongside Dean Fearing and Stephan Pyles, was one of three Dallas chefs responsible for the Southwestern style of cuisine.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tennessee DMV refuses to give woman a driver’s license with new last name after her legal same-sex marriage in D.C.

The full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution says that each state has to respect the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings” of the other states in this country. Traditionally, that has been understood to include legally contracted marriages. But, of course, Congress in 1996 passed the Defense of Marriage Act — or DOMA — which says the federal government will not recognize legal same-sex marriages and which allows individual states to refuse to  recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

So, we get situations like this, documented by WUSA9.com in in Washington, D.C.:

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) has challenged that portion of DOMA that prohibits federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages, and a decision is pending in a Massachusetts court in that case. And of course, a decision is also pending in a California federal court in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the California constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

There are other arguments for giving federal recognition to same-sex marriages and for requiring all states to recognize a legally contracted same-sex marriage from any state. Some arguments are based on the Constitution’s equal protection clause; some involve separation of church and state. And of course, there’s the basic idea of fairness — you know, that whole “liberty and justice for all” thing?

Who knows how it’s all going to wind up. But I am pretty sure it is going to take a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to settle it one way or another. And even that might not be the final word. One thing I do know, until it is settled, we’re going to keep hearing stories like Traci Turpin’s. And that is not fair.

—  admin

GetEQUAL NOW to protest anti-gay Texas GOP platform at Republican event in Dallas next week

When I caught up with Michael Robinson this morning, he was on his way to perform 10 hours of community service stemming from his arrest a few months ago in San Francisco at a protest related to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Robinson was arrested in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an action organized by GetEQUAL. Since then, he and fellow local activist CD Kirven have split off from GetEQUAL and formed thier own group, GetEQUAL NOW, which is aimed at bringing more diversity to the LGBT equality movement. (Incidentally, Robinson said GetEQUAL leaders have demanded that the new group use a different name, but he has no plans to change it.)

I was calling Robinson because I noticed that GetEQUAL NOW is preparing to stage its first action, and it looks like they’ve picked a good one. According to the Facebook page, they’ll be protesting anti-gay language in the Texas GOP platform next week outside the Blue Mesa restaurant across from NorthPark Center.

As best I can tell, that’s where conservative radio host Mark Davis of WBAP will be speaking on immigration at a meeting of the Dallas Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

Robinson noted that the GOP platform also calls for anti-immigration legislation similar to the bill that recently passed in Arizona. And he noted that even GOP groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus have come out against the anti-gay language in the GOP platform.

Robinson acknowledged that the anti-gay language in the platform is not new, but he said it’s time to do something about it before GOP legislators decide to act on it.

“Somebody needs to get mad,” he said. “They need to change that platform. It’s ridiculous, it’s stupid and it’s hurtful.”

Robinson said while many LGBT people are aware of the anti-gay language, they’re passive about it and choose instead to complain about President Barack Obama.

“We’re going to make some noise on this one,” Robinson said. “This is crazy. We’re calling them out, and we’re serious, we’re not playing.”

Rob Schlein, presdient of Dallas Log Cabin Republicans, told me earlier today he won’t be participating in the protest. Log Cabin has been working to remove the anti-gay language from the platform for several years, and the group issued an official statement about the controversy over the platform earlier today. Asked whether he would attend the protest, Schlein said: “No. Our disagreement is focused on the anti-gay elements and the harsh language. This protest takes a more broader vision of opposition.”

Here’s Log Cabin’s full statement:

Recent attention has been given to the Republican Party of Texas and what many consider are the anti-gay planks in its 2010 Platform.  Although these planks are not new, the attention is.  From the Dallas Voice to bloggers all over the nation, Republicans are being painted as anti-gay and intolerant.

At the Texas Republican Party State Convention we warned our fellow delegates of the consequences of including extremist language in the party platform regarding gay and lesbian Texans.  For years, Log Cabin Republicans (a group representing gay, lesbian and like minded Republicans) has submitted resolutions to remove the extremist language at the precinct and state senatorial convention levels.  Emails were also sent to every member of the state platform committee imploring them to either remove the passages or reword them, and  Log Cabin Republicans Dallas offered suggested substitute language.  Those resolutions and emails were ignored by the Platform Committee at the state convention.

Language such as, “We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders”, and language equating gay parents with child molesters and abusive parents is obviously not supported by the majority of Texans, rank and file Republicans or even people of faith.

We are regularly contacted by activist Republicans and Republican groups expressing their concern about the appalling language included in this document.  Many gay and lesbian business owners and professionals that are natural allies of the GOP sit on the sidelines at a time when we need their help more than ever.  Young Republicans and young evangelicals are often embarrassed by the antiquated statements in the platform. Worse yet, a recent fundraising drive by a left leaning Washington D.C. gay rights organization highlighted the language from the Texas Party Platform in a letter to its well healed contributors.

The enemies of the Republican Party will do anything during this election to distract voters from the dangerous consequences of their explosive expansion of government and unsustainable deficits.  Republican fiscal and pro-free enterprise policies can save our country.  Now is not the time to be shooting ourselves in the foot simply to pacify passionate but wrongheaded elements of our own party.

The party platform is controlled by a handful of party activists.  We call on Republicans at all levels to publicly repudiate many of the extremist positions taken in the Texas Party Platform.  It is time for Republican office holders to stop pointing fingers while claiming to have “never read the state platform” and clearly state their agreement or disagreement with such foolish language.

We are happy this language is receiving wide exposure since we are certain it cannot survive the light of scrutiny. That said, we also believe the stakes are too high and Log Cabin Republicans is committed to working toward Republican victory despite the language in the platform.

—  John Wright

Stonewall commemoration

Photos by David Taffet/Dallas Voice

—  John Wright