AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

“Gen Silent” explores challenges facing the elderly LGBT community

Gen Silent PosterThere are almost 38 million LGBT Americans over the age of 65. This number is expected to double by 2030. Yet in a Fenway Institute study fifty percent of nursing home workers said that their co-workers are intolerant of LGBT people. That collision of a rapidly aging queer population and a nursing home system ill-prepared to serve them is explored in Gen Silent, a documentary showing at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) on Thursday, January 26, at 6:30 pm.

Gen Silent, from award-winning director and documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux, follows six LGBT seniors as they struggle to make decisions about their twilight years. These seniors put a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors so afraid of discrimination in long-term health care that many go back into the closet.

Gen Silent startlingly discovers how oppression in the years before Stonewall now leaves many elders not just afraid but dangerously isolated and at risk on not receiving medical care. The film shows the wide range in quality of paid caregivers –from those who are specifically trained to make LGBT seniors feel safe, to the other end of the spectrum, where LGBT elders face discrimination, neglect or abuse, including shocking bed-side attempts by staff to persuade seniors to give up their “sinful” lifestyles.

This free screening will be followed by a call-to-action and panel discussion with some of Houston’s GLBT senior leaders.

View the trailer for Gen Silent after the break.

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Wings of Desire at MFAH, IRS to allow deductions for gender transition

Wings of Desire1. If you’re a fan of German films that are partially in French, the film oeuvre of Peter Faulk and sexy trapeze artists with existential angst then “Wings of Desire” is your kind of flick.  The 1987 Wim Wenders masterpiece tells the story of an Angel (Bruno Ganz) who, after watching humanity since the dawn of time, desires to become human so he can be with the woman he loves. “Wings of Desire” screens tonight at 7 pm at the Museum of Fine Art Houston (1001 Bissonnet).

2. Transgender Americans who undergo hormone therapy or receive gender realignment surgery may now be able to deduct the costs of those treatments on their taxes. According to GLAD, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the IRS has issued an “action on decision” statement saying that the agency will acquiesce to an appeals court ruling allowing the deductions. GLAD cautions that medical deductions can still be audited and encourages anyone planning to deduct cost of transition medical expenses to rigorously document the medical necessity of treatments and consult with a tax professional when preparing return

3. Election day is tomorrow. If you’re one of the 58,345 people in Harris County who voted early, then good for you.  If not, you’ll want to visit HarrisVotes.org and find out where to go to cast your ballot.  Polls open at 7 am on Tuesday and close at 7 pm sharp.

—  admin

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

Crazy Eyes At CPAC: Americans Are Paying 75% Of Their Income For Taxes

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

American Family Association: Native Americans Are Morally Disqualified To Own Land Because They Have Rejected Jeebus

According to the American Family Association, Native Americans are “morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil” because they rejected early efforts to impose Christianity upon them. Bryan Fischer explains:

The native American tribes ultimately resisted the appeal of Christian Europeans to leave behind their superstition and occult practices for the light of Christianity and civilization. They in the end resisted every attempt to “Christianize the Savages of the Wilderness,” to use George Washington’s phrase. They rejected Washington’s direct counsel to the Delaware chiefs in 1779, “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ.” Thomas Jefferson three times signed legislation appropriating federal tax dollars for the evangelizing of the Native American tribes. It all came to nought, as one tribe after another rejected the offer of spiritual light and advanced civilization. God warned the ancient nation of Israel not to lapse into the abominable practices of the native peoples “lest the land vomit you out…as it vomited out the nation that was before you” (Lev. 18:28). Time eventually ran out for the Canaanites, because they filled up the full measure of their iniquity. Time ran out for the native American tribes for the same reason.

According to Fischer, even 21st century Native Americans have no moral right to what little land they still have: “Many of the tribal reservations today remain mired in poverty and alcoholism because many native Americans continue to cling to the darkness of indigenous superstition instead of coming into the light of Christianity and assimilating into Christian culture.”

NOTE: Despite Bryan Fischer’s incessant onslaught of racism and vile naked Christianist bigotry, his American Family Association radio show remains a popular destination for potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

HRC: After DADT, Americans will realize we need equality, ‘We won’t have to say a thing’

This explains why we need more smart, savvy, aggressive people leading the movement for full equality. Seriously.

In today’s Washington Post article on the changing politics surrounding gay issues, check out this quote from HRC’s Fred Sainz:

In Washington, gay rights groups say they will turn now to the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” which would stop employers from discriminating based on a person’s real or perceived sexual identity.

That idea has been kicking around Congress since the 1970s, and few think the new members of the Republican House majority will be the ones to put it over the top. Still, some gay activists say the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal will inevitably lead to more successes in their effort to erase the official barriers to complete parity in society.

“If you can fight and die for your country, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be granted the full set of rights” that others have, including the ability to marry a same-sex partner, said Fred Sainz, a vice president at the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. With the military’s policy repealed, he said, “Americans will deduce that on their own. We won’t have to say a thing.”

Ah, yes, your work is done. Seriously, who even thinks that way, let alone says it out loud — to a reporter.

So, fine. Don’t say another thing. Just stop talking all together. Have your parties and let the GetEQUAL, Equality Matters, Freedom to Marry, activists and LGBT bloggers take care of things moving forward.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

1 in 10 Americans are on Unemployment

 1 in 10 Americans are on Unemployment – that is a staggering fact, one that affects our fellow LGBT brothers and sisters at a high rate.  With the push for DADT repeal, I hope you will also take a second to demand that Congress extend Unemployment Benefits to the millions of Americans who are out of work. 

As someone who has been on unemployment before, I can personally vouch that if it were not for the support of the Unemployment I received, I would have likely lost my home and my healthcare coverage.  This can be devastating for our communities; devastating to neighbors who are dependent on medications, friends struggling to keep their homes, or family-members faced with a life threatening illness.

We all know someone who is looking for work right now, the job market is slow and even tougher for a minority. For many of us we want to be working, we want to be contributing our fair share but sometimes we are over-looked for openings because we happen to be trans or openly Gay.  We have a small window to push Congress into action and extend this crucial lifeline to tens or hundreds of thousands of our community members. 

Americans for Democratic Action has launched an aggressive petition to force Congress to act now.  While Congress debates tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, our community members are struggling to find work, are losing their homes and are being forced to choose between crucial medications and going hungry.  

I hope you will take two seconds out of your day to sign this petition and urge your friends to do the same – this maybe a lifeline to one of your friends or even yourself, and it will only be extended in the lame duck session if we act together. 

Sign the petition right now  at – http://bit.ly/ib93ap 

 

Help expand the reach, Donate your facebook and twitter today with this link to tell all your friends.

 

Demand Congress help the 1 in 10 Americans on unemployment NOW – http://bit.ly/ib93ap  - #p2 #lgbt

 

- Andy Szekeres

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Video: Why can’t Americans understand concept of *civil* marriage?

More support for “biblical values” pertaining to marriage, complete with the word “fag” at the 1:58 mark and man/donkey comparisons at 6:00:

The thing is: While we’d always push back against his slurs and any attempts to physically encroach in our own life, we actually support this man’s right to put every one of these ideas on faith. His own personal faith. His own personal religious ceremony. His own personal “making sweet love to a goat” fears. His own personal house and family. If only he’d add, “…but despite all of these feelings, I support *civil* equality for LGBT taxpayers,” we’d have no issue with his right to see his religion as supporting these kinds of “facts.”

But that’s what our opponents won’t realize or at least admit. And hey, why should they, when so few are articulating the root issue in this so-called “culture war”?




Good As You

—  admin

Sen. Ensign says Americans should be allowed to serve ‘regardless of their sexual orientation’

As I mentioned this morning, Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reported yesterday that a staffer to Senator John Ensign (R-NV) told constituents that he was inclined to support repeal of DADT.

Now, via Greg Sargent, comes word from the Senator himself, in the form of a letter to constituents:

Another step forward on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ladies and gents.

In a letter to constituents who have inquired about his position on DADT, GOP Senator John Ensign strongly suggests he is leaning towards supporting repeal of the policy, another sign that there may be enough tacit GOP support in the Senate for repeal to get it past a GOP filibuster.

“It is my firm belief that Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to fight and risk their lives in defense of this great nation,” Ensign writes in the letter, which I’ve obtained. “As a nation currently engaged in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the focus of all decisions affecting military readiness, recruiting and retention, and unit cohesion should be to maximize the success of ongoing operations.”

Greg notes that this is not a completely done deal. Ensign and his spokesperson both indicated that the Pentagon’s DADT study will influence his final decision:

In the letter, Ensign adds the caveat that he’s still awaiting a Pentagon report, due out on December 1st, that will gauge the impact of repealing the policy. Asked for comment, Ensign spokesperson Jennifer Cooper reiterated this point: “Senator Ensign is waiting on the report from the Pentagon and the testimony of the military chiefs to see if any changes to this policy can or should be done in a way so as not to harm the readiness or war fighting capabilities of our troops.”

But it’s already been reported that it’s set to find repeal of the policy can be done with minimal and isolated risk.

This feels like momentum.

That Pentagon report takes on added significance by the day. And, we’ve still got the timing and process hurdles to get over when the Senate reconvenes after Thanksgiving. But, it’s way better to be picking up potential supporters at this point, than losing them.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin