Sen. Ted Cruz introduces anti-gay marriage bill

Ted CruzU.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has introduced a bill to defend states’ rights to define marriage.

Cruz introduced the State Marriage Defense Act Thursday to amend U.S. law “with regard to the definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ for Federal purposes and to ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is the bill’s only co-sponsor.

“It will ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states that have chosen to recognize same-sex unions,” said a statement issued by the authors.

“I support traditional marriage. Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to re-define marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens,” Cruz said in a statement. “The Obama Administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states. We should respect the states, and the definition of marriage should be left to democratically elected legislatures, not dictated from Washington. This bill will safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for its residents.”

The Republican senator from Texas is the second congressman to introduce anti-gay marriage legislation this year. Congressman Randy Weber, R-Friendswood, filed the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 in January to require the federal government to issue benefits only to same-sex couples who live in states with marriage equality. After June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government recognizes all same-sex marriages for benefits despite where a couple resides.

—  Anna Waugh

Task Force’s Rea Carey says to keep momentum going to create more change

Rea Carey, executiove director of the Natinla Gay and Lesbian Task Force, speaks about the future of the LGBT movement at  the Creating Change conference in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, speaks about the future of the LGBT movement at the Creating Change conference in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Rea Carey expects the momentum from 2013 to carry over and encourage more change and success for the LGBT community this year in areas like immigration reform, healthcare coverage and nondiscrimination legislation.

Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called on the 4,000 people at the National Conference for LGBT Equality: Creating Change to reflect on the advances last year and fight for more in the coming months during her State of the Movement speech on Friday.

“2013 showed us and this country that the wins of 2012 weren’t a fluke,” Carey said. “The momentum is in favor of progressive change. We are here to stay, our progress will continue and we will not allow this country to turn back.”

—  Anna Waugh

HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

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The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Since filing for governor, Davis has publicly applauded San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Davis supported a similar ordinance in 2000 when she served on the Fort Worth City Council. But her campaign has since been silent on LGBT issues. Davis was a surprise speaker at HRC’s Black Tie Dinner in November, and she’ll be attending a Dallas LGBT fundraiser at a lesbian couple’s home this Friday, which is closed to media. Despite showing up at fundraisers and events where she appeals to LGBT voters, her campaign has refused several requests for an interview with Dallas Voice for the reason that she is too busy.

—  Anna Waugh

Louie Minor not shocked by John Carter’s support of DOMA 2.0, says ‘it’s time’ to represent LGBT Texans

Louie

Louie Minor

Louie Minor, the out veteran challenging Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter in Central Texas, said he’s not surprised the congressman recently co-sponsored the State Marriage Defense Act.

The bill would prohibit legally married same-sex couples in states that don’t recognize their marriages, like Texas, from receiving federal benefits.

“I was disappointed that they filed it, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Minor told Dallas Voice this week. “For over a decade, John Carter has continually voted against the LGBT community, and he’s received a zero on the HRC scorecard. So now I think it’s time for us to elect a congressman that will represent LGBT Texans and be our voice in Washington.”

Carter, who’s held the seat since 2002, has received a zero each session on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, which rates members of Congress on their support for LGBT issues.

Minor said that while there’s some timing to the fact that Carter signed on to sponsor an anti-gay bill when he’s facing an openly gay challenger, he said the legislation likely would’ve surfaced anyway. Both Carter and Minor are unopposed in their primaries.

“To be honest, I think he would’ve voted that way regardless if he was running against an openly gay candidate,” he said. “That’s just what he opposes.”

Since an interview with Dallas Voice about his candidacy, Minor said he hasn’t received any negative feedback in the district about being an openly gay candidate. He said he’s seen some sarcastic comments about the likelihood of him defeating a tea party Republican in conservative Texas to be the first openly gay congressman from the state.

“I think that this should be a wakeup call for the LGBT community and their allies across the state,” Minor said about the legislation. “There’s 12 Texan congressman that co-sponsored, so it should be a wakeup call that we have to organize, we have to work together, we have to support candidates, especially an LGBT candidate, to be our voice. Because if we do nothing, than nothing will change.”

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas hate crime victim brutally beaten starts fund for medical bills

Hate-Crime

Editor’s note: The pictures below are graphic and may not be suitable for young readers.

Arron Keahey, the victim of a brutal beating over Labor Day weekend, has started a GoFundMe account to help cover his medical bills.

Keahey, who lived in Dallas a time, was in Springtown, a small town about 70 miles west of Dallas in Parker County, visiting family for the weekend. He went to a man’s house after meeting him on the social app MeetMe and was attacked when he arrived.

Keahey’s injuries included brain trauma, nerve damage and broken facial bones. He had to have facial reconstruction surgery and has a metal eye socket now. His goal on the site is to raise $10,000.

Brice Johnson, 19, was arrested for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony, which Springtown police are investigating as a hate crime.

If prosecutors seek a hate crime enhancement under state law to a first-degree felony, he could face five years to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, according to the Texas Penal Code.

Keahey writes on the site:

“My name is Arron Keahey, and I was recently lured and ambushed, beaten to almost an inch of my life, after meeting someone on a social app, because I am gay. I had to have facial reconstructive surgery, had brain trauma as well as memory loss, and am having problems with anxiety and depression. I am having to start my life over, and I am needing help for medical bills, as well as everyday expenses and buying a car. Any donation to me will be truly appreciated, and I cannot thank you enough for your support.

“Even if you do not have the resources to donate, please at least share this article and spread the word of what happened. I truly believe that the more problems like this in this country are talked about, the less it will happen and the closer we will be to a solution.”

Photos of Keahey after the attack are below.

—  Anna Waugh

Mary Cheney to lead fundraiser against Indiana gay marriage ban

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Mary Cheney

INDIANAPOLIS — A daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney is joining the fight against a proposed constitutional amendment in Indiana to ban same-sex marriage, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Mary Cheney, a lesbian who was legally married in the District of Columbia, will host a reception Dec. 11 for Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan coalition aimed at defeating the proposed amendment.

“Freedom means freedom for everyone,” Cheney wrote in an e-mail sent to Freedom Indiana supporters and posted Tuesday on the group’s website. “For me, that’s not just another saying. It’s who I am — the core of what I believe. No one should be denied the fundamental liberties we all deserve.”

Cheney’s participation in the Indiana campaign comes as she and her sister, GOP Senate candidate Liz Cheney, fight over gay marriage. The Cheney sisters’ feudspilled out in the open on TV and Facebook last week.

Liz Cheney, who is challenging Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi in a GOP primary, has said she believes in a “traditional definition of marriage.” Mary Cheney’s wife, Heather Poe, said on Facebook that recent comments by Liz Cheney on Fox News Sunday were “offensive.”

Mary Cheney’s pitch to help Freedom Indiana seems to echo a sentiment expressed by Poe in her Facebook post that gay couples and their families should feel protected regardless of their state of residence.

“Speaking out against HJR-6 isn’t a matter of politics,” Mary Cheney said in her Freedom Indiana e-mail. “It’s about family. It’s about everyone feeling welcome in the state they call home.”

Indiana’s House Joint Resolution 6 first passed the state’s General Assembly in 2011. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, and other lawmakers support legislative action that would put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2014.

—  Steve Ramos

Tennessee man beaten in alleged anti-gay hate crime

imagesA Paris, Tenn., business owner told police that during an alleged robbery, assailants beat him while calling him anti-gay slurs and then wrote one on his forehead with a permanent marker before he was knocked unconscious.

WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tenn., reported on Thursday that 32-year-old Joe Williams, the owner of Healthy Thyme, was robbed of $1,500, and the store was set on fire. Williams told The Paris Post-Intelligencer that a man had entered the store earlier that day and asked him about his “sexual preference.” The man told Williams he couldn’t shop at the store if the owner was gay.

Williams told police a man later entered the store through the employee’s entrance, asking for something to help his sick daughter, according to the Post-Intelligencer. Williams recommended a product, and when he reached down to get it, the man allegedly began beating him.

Paris Police Sgt. Michael Ramos reported Williams had a “homosexual word written in black across his forehead.”

The police report also indicates two other men, both wearing ski masks and black jackets, joined the first man in hitting Williams. Williams told officers he was hit until he was unconscious, and when he woke up, he saw the men pouring gasoline near the front of the building.

Williams barricaded himself in the store’s office and then went next door to call police after he saw the robbers leave the business.

“I just fear for my life,” Williams said. “I’m to the point now where I’m worried to even go outside. I live my life as a gay man and wasn’t ashamed of it, and I just feel that I was targeted for that for that reason.”

—  Steve Ramos

Restaurant patron denies server and former Marine tip for being gay

Marine-Server-Stiffed-TipsBRIDGEWATER, N.J. — A restaurant customer wrote a note on her $93.55 bill, saying she wasn’t leaving a tip because she doesn’t agree with the server’s lifestyle.

KNBC-TV in Los Angeles reported that Danya Morales, a former Marine and server at Gallop Asian Bistro, posted a photo of the bill, showing a line through where the tip is normally written in for credit card payment, to the “Have a Gay Day” Facebook page.

The note on the receipt reads, “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle & the way you live your life.”

Morales said the customer expressed shock at her short hair, and when Morales introduced herself to the customer and her children, the customer said, “Oh, I thought you were gonna say your name is Dan. You sure surprised us!”

The restaurant’s manager told NBC 4 New York, “We don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind. Those customers are not welcome here.”

In October, a server in Kansas was denied a tip and left with a note saying his “homosexual lifestyle is an affront to God.”

—  Steve Ramos

Marco Rubio raising money for group that tries to turn gay people straight

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Sen. Marc Rubio, R-Fla.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible presidential candidate in 2016, will deliver the keynote address at the annual fundraiser for the Florida Family Policy Council, a prominent social conservative organization that promotes discredited “conversion therapy” to help LGBT individuals become straight, Salon reported.

The Nov. 16 fundraising dinner honors Mat Staver, an ardent anti-gay activist who is suing New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie for signing a law banning gay-to-straight conversion therapy and has said that teaching gay rights in school is tantamount to “sexual assault.”

John Stemberger, the Florida Family Policy Council’s president, also is an anti-gay activist. He is chairman of Trail Life, the “moral alternative” to the Boy Scouts of America, which recently lifted its ban on gay Scouts. Trail Life won’t accept openly gay boys as members, but offers counseling services to youth who suffer from “gender confusion.”

“We’re not going to tolerate somebody who’s, you know, here and queer, loud and proud, all of that nonsense,” Stemberger told social-conservative radio host Janet Mefferd.

Staver also has a history of making incendiary claims about gays. In June, he claimed the passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers form discriminating against LGBT employees and applicants, would “result in significant damage and even death of some of the individuals.”

After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June, Staver suggested the decision would bring the nation closer to “the realm of rebellion.”

—  Steve Ramos

Hallmark nixes word ‘gay’ from ‘Deck the Halls’ lyrics

hallmark+ornamentHallmark’s design for a new Christmas ornament comes with an editorial change.

The company released an ornament in the shape of a thick, red Christmas pullover with the words from a well-known Christmas carol across the chest. Well, sort of. Instead of, “Don we now our gay apparel,” Hallmark revised it to read, “Don we now our FUN apparel.”

CNN reported the company defended the change.

“When the lyrics to ‘Deck the Halls’ were translated from Gaelic and published in English back in the 1800s, the word ‘gay’ meant festive or merry,” according to a statement released Wednesday. “Today it has multiple meanings, which we thought could leave our intent open to misinterpretation.”

The Hallmark statement went on to explain the ornament was created in the spirit of “fun”.

“The trend of wearing festively decorated Christmas sweaters to parties is all about fun, and this ornament is intended to play into that,” the statement said. “So the planning team decided to say what we meant: fun.”

The ornament is on sale on the company’s website as part of the Keepsake collection for the price of $12.95.

 

—  Steve Ramos