Kiss-in seeks domestic partner benefits for U of H

Pucker up!

Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday, while some battle the supermarket crowds for chocolate and champagne and others battle  that soul-sucking feeling that they will be alone forever, students at the University of Houston will be battling for equal benefits for LGBT employees.

“Our LGBT faculty and staff at the University of Houston are not given the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts,” says James Lee, one of the student organizers. “This rally is an issue campaign to let administration know we care about our professors, directors and advisers and we think they all deserve to be treated equally.”

Lee explains that the event is not just for same-sex couples, the organizers want opposite-sex couples to participate to help demonstrate that straight and LGBT relationships are the same.  Got no one to kiss? No problem, says Lee, “We will have rally signs and other goodies you can show support with.”

The smooch-fest kicks off at 12:30 pm in Butler Plaza (in front of the MD Anderson Library).

—  admin

TCU LGBT alumni group forms

Organizer says school has been helpful, supportive in forming group for gay graduates

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

There are some schools that are — or have been — affiliated with religious institutions that  not only wouldn’t welcome an LGBT alumni group, they would block such a group outright.

But when Doug Thompson, a graduate of Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), approached his alma mater’s alumni association about forming an LGBT affiliate, he said, the response was, “Absolutely. No problem.”

TCU’s new LGBT alumni group will hold its first large meeting on Saturday, Oct. 22, after the TCU homecoming game. Thompson acknowledged that sports isn’t the main concern of many LGBT alumni, but homecoming is still a time when many alumni return to visit the campus.

Thompson said when he asked the alumni association whether the LGBT group would need approval by the school’s administration, he was told the administration would back it. The group was approved in April.

Unlike Baylor University, which sued to keep its LGBT alumni from using the school name to organize a group, Thompson said there has been no objection from the TCU campus.

“We just want to get people involved however they want to be involved,” Kristi Hoban, associate vice chancellor alumni of relations, said. “We just reach out, whether it’s a class or the business school or a special interest group.”

She said that black alumni were not participating until the Black Alumni Alliance formed about 11 years ago. Now, she said, they’re active leaders in class reunions, homecoming and department alumni events, adding that she hopes to see the same thing happen with the LGBT network.

Finding LGBT alumni hasn’t been easy, Thompson said, as students aren’t asked about their sexual orientation before they graduate.

But Thompson said about 120 alumni have already responded, mostly to calls on social media sites. And now that the school has a Gay Straight Alliance, he said, finding future alumni will be easier.

“Our goal will be to support gay and lesbian students and start a scholarship,” Thompson said. “And we’ll form activities around things gay alumni have an interest in.”

He mentioned support for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival on campus as a direction for the group.

Thompson said that having an LGBT alumni group will help the school provide a better environment for its LGBT students.

Two years ago, TCU proposed setting aside dorm space for LGBT students. A week after the announcement, when only eight students had signed up for the housing, the school scrapped those plans.

“That got totally blown out of proportion,” Hoban said.

She said the intention was never segregated housing but really just an LGBT campus group.
Thompson said the school would have avoided the bad publicity if it had the alumni group to guide them.

The LGBT alumni group will get together after the homecoming game against New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 22. They will meet at Tommy’s Hamburgers’ Camp Bowie Boulevard location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

…………………

OUT, PROUD ATHLETE

Pryor.Victor

Victor Pryor

Perhaps one of the best known Texas Christian University grads that will be attending the new LGBT alumni group’s meeting this weekend is Vincent Pryor, a TCU Horned Frogs football star from 1994.

That year, before the final game of the season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Pryor came out to his teammates. Rather than shunning him, Pryor’s coach told him he was proud of his honesty

“My teammates and my coaches overwhelmingly supported and accepted me,” Pryor writes on his website, VincentPryor.com. “All of the fears and concerns I had about being kicked off the team, or losing my scholarship, or embarrassing my school — none of that happened.  And the best part of it was that I became a better athlete after I came out.”

That day, Pryor had the biggest game of his college career, tallying a record 4.5 sacks — a record that still stands today. His performance helped TCU win the conference title and a berth in a post-season bowl game.

Today, Pryor works in sales and lives in Chicago with his partner of 12 years, who was a classmate at TCU. To watch his just-
released an “It Gets Better” video, below.

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

Obama administration defends DOMA in court, again

The administration doesn’t have to defend these bigoted laws in court – we established that a few months ago, once and for all (here, here, and especially here) – but they continue to do so.

Considering President Obama was for gay marriage in 1996, this ongoing defense of bigotry and discrimination is unacceptable. It comes across as playing politics with people’s civil rights. And it’s wrong.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Administration Asks Court to Delay DADT Challenge

Last week, the Justice Department filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to delay the briefing schedule in Log Cabin Republicans v. Gates, the lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). The Justice Department requested that the briefing schedule for the case be suspended following the legislative action to repeal DADT in December and pending implementation of the repeal of DADT by the Defense Department.  Notably, the Justice Department’s motion pledges to provide the Ninth Circuit with a status update on the implementation process within 90 days.

Final repeal of DADT occurs after the President, Defense Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that policies have been written to implement repeal and compliance with these polices is consistent with military readiness.  Once this happens, the law will be stricken from the United States Code following a 60-day waiting period.  The Justice Department’s request asks the Ninth Circuit to put the Log Cabin Republican case on hold during this period.

Based on the current briefing schedule in Log Cabin Republicans v. Gates, the Justice Department must file their brief defending the constitutionality of DADT by January 24th.  Lawyers for Log Cabin Republicans say they plan to oppose the Justice Department’s request for a delayed briefing schedule.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Lambda Legal slams Obama administration for appealing Witt’s DADT ruling

Via press release, here’s the very strong statement from the Legal Director of Lambda Legal, Jon Davidson (with my emphasis added):

“We congratulate Major Witt on her return to service and our colleagues at the ACLU of Washington who represented her. However, the decision to appeal by the Department of Justice leaves us wondering just what part of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue’ does the Obama Administration not get? Notwithstanding President Obama’s concession that the military’s current anti-gay policies are hurting national security, his administration is continuing to pursue the discharge of a decorated officer who did not ‘tell,’ who would not have even been investigated under the military’s current guidelines, and whose discharge has been found not to promote unit cohesion or morale. While it is good that the administration decided not to seek a stay of Major Witt’s reinstatement, there was no necessity for an appeal to be filed, contrary to suggestions of Obama Administration representatives. After a trial, Major Witt was found to be ‘an exemplary officer,’ ‘an effective leader,’ ‘a caring mentor’ and ‘an integral member of an effective team,’ whose ‘loss within [her] squadron resulted in a diminution of the unit’s ability to carry out its mission.’ Filing this appeal and refusing to suspend discharges pending the repeal of the military’s current anti-gay policy is a significant failure on the part of our nation’s Commander in Chief.

We agree with Lambda Legal. Robert Gibbs was wrong. There was no necessity for this appeal to be filed. It’s is a significant failure.

Sign our letter to the President, urging him to become actively involved in the effort to pass the Defense bill with the DADT language. We’re running out of time — and we don’t need another significant failure. The letter is here.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Obama administration blocking Courage Campaign site, while Teabagger site is okay

Can’t wait to hear the excuse for this one.

From the Hill:

A progressive activist group in California is complaining that the Pentagon has prevented soldiers from accessing its web site in Iraq.

The group argues that Californians serving in Iraq who will vote on a series of ballot measures on Tuesday do not have access to the Courage Campaign “voters guide,” which might help them make decisions.

The Hill independently confirmed that the Tea Party Express site can be accessed on Defense Department computers while the Courage Campaign site cannot be accessed. Courage campaign said it has received information that web sites affiliated with the Traditional Values Coalition, California Election Forum and Christian Voter Guide through the Defense Department computers in Iraq.

And this had better not be the reason:

However, there could be other possible explanations for the blocked site, such as an automatic filter that sifts through specific words. The Courage Campaign site uses multiple references to “sex” (as in same-sex marriages) and “gay” (as in anti-gay, or gay rights). The site also contains information and action items on the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service members.

And I don’t want to hear “it’s the Pentagon, not the President.” Is he in charge of his own administration or not?  We’d never have given George Bush a pass for something nasty “an agency” did to us.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Obama Administration Seeks Stay of Injunction Halting DADT

Today, the Department of Justice asked judge Virginia Phillips’s to stay her decision halting all discharges under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.  They also filed a notice of appeal of the case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is certainly disappointing and frustrating that the administration has sought a stay. We continue to believe that there’s nothing remotely constitutional about laws that discriminate against LGBT people. But there is one simple way to put the endless legal wrangling behind us and do what the President and the American people want to strengthen our military: the administration and Congress need to finish the legislative work on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal after the election. The interests of the administration, the military, and most importantly the American people are best served by doing the hard work of enacting a durable legislative repeal of this discriminatory law.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

House Members Ask Administration Not to Appeal DADT Ruling

39 members of the House of Representatives wrote a letter [pdf] this week to President Obama calling on him not to appeal the recent decision calling the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law unconstitutional.  The group was led by openly gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).

The call echos our continuing efforts to end the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members and our letter to Attorney General Eric Holder [pdf] calling on him not to appeal the case. Additionally, HRC has called on our members and supporters to petition Holder to decline to appeal the case.  Add your name now!


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright