Creep of the Week: Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Want to be horrified? Do a Google image search for “anti-gay attacks in Russia.” Scroll through the photos of gays, lesbians and pro-LGBT rights protesters being arrested, harassed and beaten. Let’s just say that Russia makes places in the United States like Alabama and Virginia and Michigan seem like an LGBT paradise.

While Russia has never been known as a progressive place, life for LGBT people has become considerably more dangerous after the passage of a strict law banning “gay propaganda.” The law was intended to keep impressionable children from hearing that homosexuality is anything but evil. Not surprisingly, the law is very broad and basically makes it illegal to be openly gay in Russia. Rainbow flags are, literally, a crime now.

Needless to say, gays and lesbians who are either planning to attend or compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia are a little worried. A lot worried, actually, that they will be fined, put in jail or, say, kidnapped and tortured by anti-gay thugs. Because that’s a legitimate hobby in Russia now.

“The latest laws against so-called gay propaganda … have essentially legalized violence against LGBT people, because these groups of hooligans justify their actions with these laws,” Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network, told The Guardian earlier this month. “With this legislation, the government said that, yes, gays and lesbians are not valued as a social group.”

—  D’Anne Witkowski

Springtown man nearly killed in hate crime after meeting man on phone app

Arron Keahey after the Labor Day attack.

Arron Keahey after the Labor Day attack.

A Springtown man is still recovering from a hate crime after he met a man on a smartphone app on Labor Day.

Arron Keahey, 24, went to meet 18-year-old Brice Johnson after the two met on the app MeetMe. Springtown is about 70 miles west of Dallas in Parker County.

But when he arrived, Keahey was ambushed and beaten, resulting in broken facial bones, nerve damage and knocked out teeth. The attack nearly killed him. He needed plastic surgery to reconstruct his face.

Keahey, who’s gay, said he went to Johnson’s house because he thought he was gay or bisexual.

“He started getting all frustrated and talking all angrily,” Keahey told  WFAA. “I don’t remember anything after that.”

Johnson later called 911, telling police he found Keahey in the trunk of a car and he drove him to a hospital.

Police later arrested Johnson and charged him with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony.

Police are treating the incident as a possible hate crime, the first one for the small town.

“I’ve been up here altogether 10 years, and this is the first hate crime or possible hate crime that I’ve investigated,” Springtown police Lt. Curtis Stone said.

Keahey said he has learned a painful lesson about meeting people on apps.

“Just don’t meet anybody online,” he said. “Don’t trust them.”

Watch WFAA’s report below.

—  Anna Waugh

Vandals scrawl ‘fag’ on lesbian couple’s apartment door in South Texas

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Alysa Evans woke up Monday morning to find “FAG” written on her apartment wall in Poteet, a small town about 30 miles south of San Antonio.

Evans told KENS 5 that her fiancée was just getting off her first shift and she went outside to smoke a cigarette when she and her 2-year-old son saw the anti-gay slur.

She called police to report it, but they are not investigating it as a hate crime because it was written in chalk and didn’t cause any damage. Instead they are investigating it as vandalism.

“Police came out and they said if I can find something more original or catch it in the process, then they can do something about it,” Evans said.

The apartment complex’s maintenance workers later washed off the slur.

“Great job on your artwork,” Evans said. “Could have been a little more creative. Because I know I’m a fag. But great job. My 2-year-old applauded you.”

Evans said that while some people are targeting her family out of hate, she and her fiancée will always teach their son to love.

“We’re raising him in a home that loves no matter what,” she said.

Watch KENS 5’s report below.

—  Anna Waugh

Equality Texas says man should remain in prison for 1991 gay-bashing murder

Paul Broussard

Paul Broussard

Jon Buice is again up for parole in the 1991 murder of gay Houston banker Paul Broussard, who was brutally beaten and stabbed in the Montrose area when Buice and his friends decided to “beat up some queers.”

Buice, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 1992, is the only one of the 10 teens from The Woodlands who remains behind bars. But Andy Kahan with the Houston Crime Victim’s Office said Buice’s case is under review for parole. His hearing is set for Sept. 24.

Statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas is again calling for Buice to be denied parole and urging people to contact the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has said she wants Buice to remain in jail for at least 27 years, the age of her son when he was killed.

“When is it OK to allow a violent criminal out of jail early? A criminal, who blatantly snubbed his nose at the laws of humanity and, with hate in his soul, struck down another simply because the victim was gay,” Equality Texas wrote on its blog. “A criminal who found enjoyment at going out and ‘beating up some queers.’ A criminal who used his fist, steel toed boots, and a nail studded 2X4 to slowly murder another human being. A criminal who incited nine others to join him in this crime.  That is the question that, once again, is before the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles and the question that Equality Texas answers: NOT YET!”

—  Anna Waugh

Gay bars dump Russian Vodka across U.S., Canada — but not yet in Dallas

dumprussianvodkalogoLGBT advocates are calling for a boycott of Russian goods in light of the recent anti-gay laws the country’s leadership has championed.

Recent violence highlighted by BuzzFeed and the arrests under the gay propaganda ban have also spurred activists to push for a boycott of the Winter Games scheduled to take place in Russia in 2014.

But instead of boycotting the games, others called for a boycott on products, mainly Stolichnaya Vodka.

Dan Savage wrote an article urging gay bars to stop serving the alcohol. Several Chicago gay bars have already said they won’t serve it anymore, along with bars in San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto.

Howard Okon, owner of The Brick and Joes’s, said he’s heard about the boycott but isn’t ready to make a decision about the bar carrying it.

“We will be looking into it today and remove it if that’s what people are doing across the nation,” he said.

—  Anna Waugh

UPDATE: TCU says anti-gay views ‘irrelevant’ in Chick-fil-A decision

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UPDATE: TCU spokeswoman Lisa Albert said the anti-gay controversy with Chick-fil-A wasn’t relevant to the conversations that began in the spring to bring the restaurant to campus.

Albert said university dining officials started student focus groups to determine what would drive them to the 1873 restaurant on campus to help limit an overflow of traffic at the campus dining hall. She added that while the company’s anti-gay reviews were likely “part of the conversation” in the focus groups, students have been asking for a Chick-fil-A for years.

“I think that the controversy was sort of irrelevant,” she said. “This was about what the students were wanting.”

She said the decision to bring Chick-fil-A to the university’s campus was made in the spring based on continued input from students about having it brought on campus. The announcement was made in the summer because that’s when the contracts were signed.

Albert said the university partners with several vendors and companies, including a Starbucks on campus, but officials don’t “support any political or personal opinions of those vendors.”

“I certainly understand the sensitivity within the gay community toward Chick-fil-A, but at the end of the day, [the company’s opinions] don’t reflect the opinions of TCU,” she said.

ORIGINAL POST: When students return to Texas Christian University’s campus for classes on Aug.  19, they’ll have Chick-fil-A as a dining option.

TCU announced internally in late May that the on-campus 1873 restaurant would be converted into a Chick-fil-A and open in the fall. A story followed in the school’s newspaper, but students had already left for the summer and it appears that few people noticed. Now LGBT advocates are questioning why the university chose to allow a controversial anti-gay restaurant chain on campus.

Todd Camp, a Fort Worth LGBT activist and TCU alumnus, said he recently heard about the restaurant coming to campus from a friend and was surprised there hadn’t been upset about it. He said the university knew the news would be controversial so it waited until after students were gone to avoid backlash.

“I find it disingenuous that they didn’t now Chick-fil-A would be controversial,” Camp said.

—  Anna Waugh

Last anti-gay measure dies in TX Lege

State Rep. Matt Krause

State Rep. Matt Krause

As the session winded down last week, an anti-gay amendment by Fort Worth’s Matt Krause was still pending in SB 215 but was ultimately killed.

The amendment, which was originally filed as HB 360, passed the House in mid-May and would have allowed student organization at state-funded colleges to discriminate for membership. But Equality Texas reports that the Senate refused to agree with the amendments and formed a conference committee over the weekend.

The amendment was later removed on Friday before the session ended Monday.

Overall, LGBT advocates have called this session a success with several anti-gay measure defeated and the advancement of a few pro-equality bills.

However, there’s still a special session, which has been limited to redistricting so far. Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said it’s unlikely anti-LGBT measures would come up unless the special session is expanded to include education or other social issues.

“We’ll just have to wait and see if the call gets expanded beyond redistricting, and if it does, it could be problematic,” Smith said.

Read Equality Texas’ timeline of the Krause amendment below.

—  Anna Waugh

Anti-trans marriage license bill dies, but Krause amendment remains

State Sen. Donna Campbell

State Sen. Donna Campbell

Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell’s anti-transgender marriage license bill is officially dead.

SB 1218 passed the Senate last week, but failed to make it out of a House committee and onto the calendar for a vote this week. The bill would have prohibited anyone from obtaining a marriage license with a document that lacks a photo, including an affidavit of sex change.

Daniel Williams, field organizer with Equality Texas, said the organization worked with transgender activists to slow the bill’s progress throughout the session.

“That is absolutely a victory,” he said.

This is the third and last anti-gay bill that’s died this session. However, Fort Worth Republican Matt Krause turned his failed HB 360 into an amendment and tacked it onto a bill last week that passed. The amendment would allow student organizations at state-funded colleges to discriminate against people for membership.

Williams said the bill’s final version will come for a vote this week and the group will work to kill the amendment if it makes it into the bill.

—  Anna Waugh

San Antonio religious leaders threaten lawsuits to end city’s DP benefits

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Philip Sevilla

Two religious leaders are threatening lawsuits if the city doesn’t stop offering domestic partner benefits in light of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s advisory opinion saying they violate the state Constitution.

Pastor Gerald Ripley of Voices for Marriage and Philip Sevilla of Texas Leadership Coalition addressed the San Antonio City Council Wednesday, threatening lawsuits in order to stop the benefits from being offered if the city doesn’t end them by June 30, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

“Lawsuits will be filed if necessary,” Ripley said.

“We cannot allow this in San Antonio. We are not San Francisco,” Sevilla said.

City attorney Mike Bernard told the newspaper the city won’t change its policy until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in two key marriage equality cases.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro has supported the benefits and said last month Abbott’s opinion to take away the benefits would hold Texas back.

Meanwhile, Fort Worth officials aren’t changing anything to the city’s DP benefits program because of Abbott’s opinion, according to an employee newsletter sent out yesterday.

—  Anna Waugh

TX House passes anti-gay amendment allowing student clubs at universities to discriminate

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State Rep. Matt Krause

The Texas House passed an amendment Wednesday afternoon that would allow student clubs at universities to discriminate against people for membership.

The motion passed 78-67 after a motion to table it failed.

Fort Worth Republican Rep. Matt Krause’s amendment mandates that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board work with institutions to “ensure that each institution does not implement a policy or otherwise engage in a practice that requires a student organization” to accept members who “demonstrate opposition to the organization’s stated beliefs and purposes.”

Krause tacked it onto SB 215 and argued the amendment was about “protecting free speech” in deciding who can join a club. Others said it wasn’t appropriate to decide for universities how organizations on campuses should be handled and called it discriminatory.

Krause originally filed the amendment as HB 360, which didn’t make it before the House floor for a vote. That bill originally stated clubs could discriminate based on race, gender and sexual orientation. A compromise bill later passed out of committee preventing clubs form having to abide by universities’ nondiscrimination polices.

According to Equality Texas, if enacted, Krause’s amendment “would allow officially-recognized student organizations who receive taxpayer funded support from a university to discriminate against a potential member based on race, religion, veteran status, HIV/AIDS status, gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression if any attribute of the student ‘demonstrates opposition to the organization’s stated beliefs and purposes.’”

State Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston, said during today’s debate that the amendment is discriminatory and takes away freedom from students to join whatever club they wanted to.

“You don’t lose your freedom a mile at a time. You lose it an inch at a time,” Dutton said. “This is another attempt to take away some of the freedoms we have.”

Daniel Williams, field organizer for Equality Texas, said the amendment “barely squeezed through” and had bipartisan opposition. He said the amendment can still be dropped from the legislation as a committee creates a compromise bill that combines the Senate and House version. That bill then goes to another vote.

“There are still many steps left in the process and we will continue to work with our allies in the House and Senate,” he said. “I am very hopeful that this amendment will not become law.”

To see how House members voted on Krause’s amendment, go here.

—  Anna Waugh