One Cub Scout troop promotes heterosexuality in a whole new way

HootersRemember when the Boy Scouts of America were discriminating against lesbian troop leaders even if they were moms with kids in their troops? And throwing out teens who came out?

You know — They had to set a moral example, all in the name of family values and honesty.

Well, the Scouts changed their policy slowly. First they’d let scouts who came out as teens finish their Eagle Scout level and wait until the next week to give them the boot. Then they decided parents of gay scouts weren’t so bad, and then gay employees could stay.

And through all those changes, the sky didn’t fall and Boy Scouts of America still promoted truth, justice and the American way.

In the year since the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America finished changing their discriminatory policies against LGBT troops and employees, my have things changed.

According to a report by ABC News, one Cub Scout troop near Denver has a new sponsor — Hooters.

One Cub Scout mom was surprised when her 7-year-old came home wearing some Hooters attire. Others expressed outrage as pictures of Cub Scouts with waitresses in Hooters uniforms showed up on Facebook.

Apparently, a local Hooters restaurant volunteered to help the Cub Scout troop. In addition to making a financial donation, they sent volunteers. However, things went a little awry when a “group of trained volunteers mistakenly wore the wrong attire” to a local Cub Scout camp. How were these well-meaning volunteers to know that they weren’t supposed to work with 7-year-olds with their boobs hanging out?

Well, maybe BSA policies haven’t really changed. After all, the experience promoted heterosexuality and must have scared the crap out of the scouts who are gay, whether they’re out or not.

We didn’t bother asking BSA’s spokesman in Irving for comment, because he hasn’t returned a called to Dallas Voice since the whole Cub Scout mom incident when Jennifer Tyrrell, who was kicked out of Scouting for being a lesbian, came to town to protest.

—  David Taffet

Equality Texas premieres hate crime video at Dallas Police HQ


Michael Dominguez, from left, Burke Burnett, Councilman Adam Medrano, D.A. Susan Hawk, Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith and Equality Texas board chair Steve Rudner at Dallas Police Headquarters to introduce a new hate crime video.

Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith introduced a new video in a press conference at Dallas Police headquarters this morning (Monday, April 11) to mark the beginning of National Crime Victims Rights week. The five-minute video focuses on last fall’s rash of attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn.

Survivor Michael Dominguez and Burke Burnett, who was attacked in a hate crime in Paris, Texas in 2011, are featured in the video and were on hand to talk about the group SOS created to help area crime victims.

Smith said the first murder of a trans person in the U.S. this year took place in Austin. Another was killed this weekend in Houston. He pointed to campaign rhetoric and discussions going on in state legislatures related to anti-LGBT discrimination laws as contributing to the violence.

Referring to the video, Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano said, “They haven’t caught anybody. That bothers me.” But he pointed out positive steps that have been taken including the creation of SOS, the increase of people participating in Volunteers on Patrol in Oak Lawn from 5 to 25.

“We work best when we work together,” Sheriff Lupe Valdez said. “No one deserves to be a victim. A beating, abuse is never acceptable.”

“The DA’s office will not accept violence against any group whatsoever,” District Attorney Susan Hawk said. “If we believe we can prove a hate crime, we will prosecute.”

Michael Dominguez said he’s seen the community work with police over the last six months and said the city functions better when groups work together. Dominguez has been the most vocal of SOS members.

“I refuse to let this happen in the city where I chose to live,” Dominguez said. “No one should live in fear.”

Maj. Max Geron of the DPD credited an increase in patrols with a decrease in the violence. He said the unreported attacks are concerning.

“Give us an opportunity to hear what you have to say and investigate the crime,” he said.

OAK LAWN HATE CRIMES (with bug, lower 3rd supers) from RED MEDIA GROUP on Vimeo.

—  David Taffet

Mississippi continues legislative assaults against LGBT people


Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant

The Mississippi Senate has passed the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act” on a  32-17 vote, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger.

The bill is seen as the worst discrimination bill to come out of a state legislature yet.

Clerks would not have to do their jobs and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if that violated their religious beliefs. They wouldn’t have to make alternate arrangements either. Businesses could deny service to gays or trans people with no repercussion if the person orientation or gender identity went against their beliefs. Professional services such as counseling, healthcare, foster care or adoption services could also be denied.

Schools, employers and others could deny trans people access to bathroom facilities.

The bill moves back to the Mississippi House where a different version passed in February. It’s not clear whether Miss. Gov. Phil Bryant would sign the bill in to law once it gets to his desk.

“This legislation moves Mississippi backward, undermining equality for its residents and jeopardizing its ability to attract and retain fair-minded businesses,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Governor Byrant should be paying close attention to the backlash against discrimination in Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a terrible anti-LGBT bill, and in North Carolina, where fair-minded people and the broader business community are calling on state leaders to repudiate and repeal the discriminatory law passed last week. Mississippi’s economy and its reputation hang in the balance.”

Last week, North Carolina passed and its governor signed into law an anti-LGBT bill and is facing boycotts. Georgia’s governor vetoed similar legislation after threats of pulling business from the state by its business community.

—  David Taffet

Appeals court upholds ban on conversion therapy torture

simpsonsAn appeals court upheld New Jersey’s law banning the use of “conversion therapy” on minors.

The court rejected the arguments that banning use of so-called conversion therapy violates freedom of speech or religion. The decision reaffirmed the right of the state to regulate medical professionals that they license.

Most LGBT groups have likened the practice of conversion therapy to torture.

Writing for the court, Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith held that “over the last few decades a number of well-known, reputable professional and scientific organizations have publicly condemned the practice of [sexual orientation change efforts], expressing serious concerns about its potential to inflict harm,” and that “[m]any such organizations have also concluded that there is no credible evidence that SOCE counseling is effective.”

“The court’s decision today is a major victory for the thousands of young people who will now be protected from these dangerous and horrific practices,” said Andrea Bowen, Garden State Equality’s executive director. “No one should subject minors to conversion therapy—least of all state-licensed clinicians responsible for the care and well-being of their patients.”

New Jersey Gov. Christie noted the “critical health risks” posed by conversion therapy, including “depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”

—  David Taffet

Lesbian shocked at anti-gay message scrawled on anniversary cake

FULLLesbianAnnivCakex400When a lesbian in Washington, D.C., picked up an anniversary cake, she found the bakery had ignored her instructions regarding the wording on the cake and had, instead, scrawled a homophobic message on it.

The Advocate reported that Sarah [she asked that her last name not be used] recently ordered a carrot cake at an Arlington, Va., bakery near her job with the intention of surprising her partner, Lindsay, on their anniversary. The design she picked out from the bakery’s catalog featured balloons on the cake’s top, but Sarah asked that the balloons not be used, and instead include the words “Happy Anniversary Lindsey! Love, Sarah.”

When she picked up the cake, not only did it have balloons, but “Lesbian Anniv. No balloons” was scribbled on it in sloppy handwriting. The cake also was chocolate, not carrot as Sarah requested.

The Advocate reported that Sarah requested to speak to the manager who apologized for the sloppy text but not for its inaccurate, homophobic content. The manager refunded Sarah’s money and offered her a “less sloppy” cake but refused to address the cake’s messaging.

“How could anyone mistake that for something a person would want on a cake?” Sarah asked The Advocate. “And what baker would sell something so messy and unprofessional? When it occurred to me that this was probably an intentional insult to my relationship, I was appalled at the audacity of the cake decorator or baker or whoever was responsible. It’s disappointing to know that when I want to honor the most important person in my life, I have to worry about some intolerant person ruining the surprise I had planned.”

—  Steve Ramos

Meeting to discuss LGBT employment protections in Waco rescheduled

Susan Duty

A discussion about adding LGBT protections to the Waco’s nondiscrimination employment ordinance has been postponed until April.

A group of LGBT advocates was set to discuss their proposal during the Equal Opportunity Employment Advisory Committee meeting Thursday, where they would vote whether to have Waco City Council discuss adding employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Susan Duty, who spearheaded the changes, said the discussion was postponed by the committee until its next meeting in April so members could gain a better understanding of the issue.

“We were a little disappointed to have it postponed, but it’s a great opportunity to educate the committee,” Duty said.

Duty also clarified that the protections would be part of a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance. She previously said the changes would apply to the city’s own employment policy. But she now says the ban would be citywide if added to the city’s existing employment nondiscrimination ordinance.

—  Dallasvoice

City releases file from complaint against Baylor for anti-gay discrimination


Alan Rodriguez, right, filed a complaint with the city in February 2011 after the Tom Landry Fitness Center refused to issue him and his partner a family membership. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Dallas city attorney’s office has released most of its records related to a complaint against Baylor’s Tom Landry Fitness Center filed under the city’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance.

After few answers from the city attorney’s office about why we weren’t permitted to view the file a few weeks ago, we were told earlier this week we could view the file, except for some communications that were considered protected by attorney-client privilege. The city has asked the Texas attorney general’s office to review that information and render an opinion about whether it should be released.

In October, the city attorney’s office said the case was closed after officials with Baylor Health Care System agreed to end all family memberships. Alan Rodriguez and his longtime partner were denied a family membership discount in February 2011 because they are a same-sex couple, and they filed a complaint under the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

The city attorney’s office closed the case in exchange for Baylor’s commitment to end all family memberships. But a timeline of when discussions about ending the memberships took place wasn’t provided, nor was it contained in the file we reviewed today.

According to the file, Baylor’s representatives continued to request that the case be dismissed on the grounds that Tom Landry is a private club and a religious organization — and that Baylor recognizes married couples as outlined by Texas law. The case was sent to the city attorney in mid-June 2011, and the last date on on a request for information from the city attorney’s office is Oct. 19, 2011.

The final investigative report was completed Nov. 3, 2011, and mentioned that Baylor would have to prove a specific membership to be considered a religious organization, and that the ordinance doesn’t protect private clubs, only religious and government entities.

—  Dallasvoice

Baylor gym ends family memberships, but gay discrimination case still open


WE ARE FAMILY | Alan Rodriguez, right, and his partner were denied a family membership at the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center, a popular gym in East Dallas. Rodriguez alleges Baylor is violating the city’s ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Tom Landry Fitness Center in East Dallas recently stopped offering family memberships, but the discrimination case filed last year after the gym refused to sell a family membership to a gay couple is still open.

The gym owned by Baylor Health Care System refused to sell Alan Rodriguez and his partner of 10 years a family membership in February 2011.

Phil Tyne, director of Baylor’s Tom Landry Fitness Center, told Instant Tea that the gym stopped offering family memberships three months ago because it lowered overall costs and now only offers individual memberships.

“We decided to lower all rates across the board,” he said.

Tyne said he was aware that the gym was involved in a discrimination case but said he did not know if the decision to change the membership structure was related to the case.

Rodriguez said he thought the problem had been resolved, though he had not heard that the memberships were no longer offered.

“Sounds like they both increased revenue and avoided providing discriminatory and potentially illegal services,” he told Instant Tea.

Beverly Davis, assistant director of Dallas’ Fair Housing Office, said the case is still waiting for a determination from the city attorney’s office, which is the same status it had back in June when it was featured in a Dallas Voice cover story about the 10-year anniversary of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Davis said she was unaware of any attempt at a settlement with Baylor regarding the case and said the membership decision appeared to be separate.

—  Dallasvoice

Anti-gay scouting policy not likely to change soon despite accepting petition

Boy Scout headquarters in Irving

Despite news from some sources that the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America is planning to change its anti-gay policies, the organization says it has no plans to do so.

A CBS story implies that the Boy Scouts are planning to review their policy.

But Boy Scouts CEO Robert Mazzuca said, “We have no plans at the moment to make any changes.”

After Jennifer Tyrrell, leader of her son’s cub scout troop, was kicked out of the organization, a petition urging her reinstatement was started on This week, the Boy Scouts agreed to meet privately with authors of the petition as a courtesy.

In the 2000 Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale case, the Supreme Court found that the Boy Scouts are a private organization and private groups may choose who can be members.

And Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said no change of policy could take place before the Boy Scouts executive committee’s next national meeting in 2013.

A Scout leader from the Northeast submitted a resolution in April that would allow individual troops to allow gays as scout leaders. That resolution has also gone nowhere.

Jon Langbert, a former local cub scout leader, said he signed the petition. Langbert is a gay dad whose son was a cub scout. He didn’t lead his son’s pack but was named “popcorn colonel” for leading its fundraising effort.

“Things are slowly changing,” he said.

He said he thought it was difficult for an organization like this to suddenly say that what it said before was immoral now isn’t. He said things are changing and cited the military.

“They don’t want to be the last organization in America on the wrong side on this,” he said.

Since the article was written in 2010, he said his son spent one more year in the scouts.

“He moved on,” he said and has since switched schools.

Langbert called discrimination against gays and against atheists antithetical to the values of scouting.

“I’d love to see the policy change,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center awaiting response to meet with ExxonMobil officials about LGBT protections

Cece Cox

Resource Center Dallas has sent two letters to ExxonMobil officials and is waiting to hear back about a meeting to discuss the upcoming shareholder vote to add LGBT protections to its EEO policy.

RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox sent a letter to an ExxonMobil board member last month in an effort to schedule a meeting with the new vice president of human resources.

The Irving-based company is considering adding a resolution to include sexual orientation and gender identity to its EEO policy.

ExxonMobil shareholders will vote on a resolution to add LGBT protections to its EEO policy at a shareholders meeting May 30 at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas.

After no response from the board member or corporate, Cox sent a letter Wednesday directly to Malcolm Farrant, the new vice president of human resources. In the letter, Cox points out that having internal policies that prohibit LGBT discrimination are not enough. She calls adding the protections “good business sense” because it would provide “clarity and consistent protection” for employees and minimize risk for shareholders.

Farrant took over the position April 1, so Cox told Instant Tea that he has the “potential to be influential,” if not for the May 30 vote, then maybe within a year the company’s view to adding the protections could change.

The resolution is “not that likely to pass” even with a meeting before shareholders vote and if the resolution passes without meeting with RCD, she said she’d be “surprised” based on the company’s history.

Still, Cox said she wants the “opportunity to educate them about the significance of equality in the workplace for LGBT employees.”

“I think that a face-to-face interaction is often more productive in these types of circumstances where we’re clearly at odds with their position and they’re at odds with ours, so you can only get so far with emails and letters” she said.

Cox said she hopes RCD gets response for a meeting but ExxonMobil needs a “respectable amount of time to respond” to the second letter. If no response is received, she said RCD could simply show up at corporate headquarters or continue to politely request a sit-down meeting.

“Others have been working on this for years and years, we’re not the only one,” Cox said. “But we are right here in their backyard and so I hope that they would have the courtesy of wanting to interact face-to-face with our community.”

GetEQUAL organizer Daniel Cates is organizing a protest at the May 30 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. The protest will be from 8:30-11:30 a.m. at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

He said the organization has protested ExxonMobil’s meetings before, but this year it is a joint protest to encourage the company to add the protections and to speak to President Barack Obama to sign an executive order to ban LGBT discrimination for companies that have federal contractors.

“We really think that this is the perfect example of the need for our president to sign this executive order,” Cates said. “We need to be pressing him, as well as ExxonMobil, to do the right thing.”

View the letters and resolution after the jump.

—  Dallasvoice