Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben finally gets a court-appointed attorney

Joey Dauben

Joey Dauben, the publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer, finally got to see a court-appointed lawyer this week to help him fight the three felony counts of child sexual abuse that have kept him in the Navarro County Jail without legal advice for almost two months now.

Edward Jendrzey, whose office is in Waxahachie in Ellis County, received the court-ordered appointment Thursday, Feb. 16. Jendrzey accepted the case after Steve Keathley, a Corsicana attorney whose wife is the president of the Navarro County Bar Association, declined an appointment by District Court Judge James Lagomarsino to represent the journalist.

In a telephone interview today, Jendrzey said, “Yes, he knows I’m representing him,” when asked whether he had met with his new client, who reached out for help from the media this week in a handwritten letter from jail. When a defendant declares himself to be indigent and asks for a court-appointed attorney, that is supposed to occur within 72 hours. In the letter, Dauben also again claimed he is innocent of the charges.

Jendrzey said his first step in Dauben’s representation will be to conduct an independent investigation of the case to learn the circumstances and to attempt to get Dauben’s $200,000 bond set by Lagomarsino lowered. “I’ll be meeting with the prosecutor about that,” Jendrzey said. Dauben’s family and friends have been unable to raise the 10 percent (or $20,000) payment bond agencies typically charge to get a defendant released from jail.

—  admin

Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

MD appointment: Marriage vote could come before weekend

MDComing soon to a Maryland near you:

Legislators in Maryland are scheduled to vote on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act on Thursday, Feb. 17, according to Judicial Proceedings Committee chairman Brian E. Frosh’s office.

”It’s going to happen on Thursday,” Brenda Smith, appointment secretary for Frosh’s office, told Metro Weekly regarding a committee vote on Senate Bill 116, on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Maryland Marriage Vote Imminent [Metro Weekly]

In both chambers, the votes are looking good, though not definite. And then of course even if/when we get passage and the governor’s announced signature, the NOM crowd is sure to go into petition-gathering overdrive in order to keep God from hating their state for leading the way to man-Android marriage.

But one thing at a time. For now, check out Equality Maryland to see how we can get Step 1 accomplished.




Good As You

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Bigots lash out at Mayor Annise Parker over appointment of Texas’ 1st transgender judge

On Thursday we reported that longtime activist Phyllis Randolph Frye had become the first transgender judge in Texas, after being appointed by Mayor Annise Parker. Well, just leave it to the Houston Area Pastors Council and the Fox affiliate to make an issue out of it:

The Houston Area Pastoral Council, which represents about 300 churches, has a big problem with the appointment. Executive Director Dave Welch says for years Frye has been undermining Texas marriage laws. He says the appointment confirms Mayor Parker, who is openly gay, is making her lifestyle a central part of her policy agenda.

“This is not just a benign act. This is someone (Frye) who is very well known as an aggressive activist on sexual diversity issues and very much against the mainstream of most of the people….As we all know municipal court judges are the first step in the elevation of different judgeships. They typically go on to civil district court judges or family court judges and beyond, so this is not a benign appointment. It’s a statement. It really is. We’ll be calling on the churches to stand up and be involved,” said Welch.

—  John Wright

AIDS Interfaith facing fundraising shortfall

Steven Pace

In October, members of the staff here at Dallas Voice spent one Saturday night participating in AIDS Interfaith Network’s Saturday Night Live program, providing an evening meal to some of the agency’s clients who might have otherwise not had a hot meal over the weekend. It was an excellent opportunity for us to see firsthand some of AIN’s outstanding programs, not to mention, to personally meet some of the wonderful people AIN serves.

So today when I opened an e-mail from Steven Pace, AIN’s executive director, and saw that the agency is in need of funds — quick — I knew I wanted to pass the information along here on Instant Tea in hopes of helping the agency meet their goal.

AIN has less than a week — until Monday, Nov. 15 — to hit the $10,000 goal, and when Pace sent the e-mail yesterday, the agency was still $3,000 short.

You might be able to donate only a small amount, and you think that your little gift wouldn’t really matter. But Pace points out, “Thanks to a generous grant from The Moody Foundation, your gift of $50, $100, or even $250 will be matched dollar-for-dollar.”

So every little bit counts, and it can count double.

Pace adds: “Everyday at AIN we see the impact that generous donors like yourself make in the lives of those we serve. From a hot meal or a ride to a doctor’s appointment for a client living with HIV/AIDS, to valuable prevention education for those at risk, your support matters.”

Go here to contribute.

—  admin

Gay NASCAR blogger says sport’s fans are more accepting of gays than gays are of NASCAR fans

Michael Myers, founder of Queers4Gears.com

As we found out when a certain lunch appointment canceled because “two of his employees are going to the races,” NASCAR returns to the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. While we’re pretty sure these particular employees are straight, the lunch cancellation got Instant Tea to thinking, are there any gay NASCAR fans out there?

Well of course there are — and not just the closeted ones — but we never would’ve imagined that there’s an entire gay NASCAR-devoted website, especially one that doesn’t feature photos of drivers with their shirts off.

Queers4Gears.com, founded by Michael Myers in 2009, has been featured on ESPN.com and was named one of the top 50 NASCAR blogs in the country by SportsManagementDegrees.net. ESPN reported on Queers4Gears after Myers asked a driver a question during a press conference (watch the driver’s reaction in the clip below).

Queers4Gears.com boasts more than a thousand followers on Twitter, and the site currently features a preview of this weekend’s action at TMS. Elsewhere on the site, there are LGBT discounts for an upcoming race in Phoenix, merchandise for sale, and a list of charities including a Nevada AIDS organization. Here’s a snippet from the About section of Queers4Gears:

Q4G founder, Michael Myers, said that he started Q4G as an online home for Gay NASCAR fans. “But more importantly, I want to bring new fans to the sport.” Myers went on to say that NASCAR fans have been more accepting of him being gay than gay people have been accepting of his being a NASCAR fan.

“There are as many misconceptions and stereotypes about NASCAR fans as there are about gay people. I hope in some small way Queers4Gears can help to change that. This has been an incredible first year and I hope to build on the site’s success for years to come.”

—  John Wright

Your last chance to take part in the ‘Faces of Life’ photo campaign

You know you want your supermodel moment

Face of LifeThe ilume Gallerie and photographer Jorge Rivas invite people to come get their photo taken as a benefit for AIDS Arms Inc. You saw the Faces of Life exhibit during the parade with rich, colorful pictures of local people in the community adorned by a red ribbon. That could be you! Only not as big and not in the parade. Nonetheless, it all goes to charity and you’ll have a heck of a Facebook profile pic.

DEETS: Through Nov. 5. Call 214-507-7369 for an appointment. $50 for singles, $75 for couples. ilumeGallerie.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Hutchison to vote against Kagan because she supported the gay ‘social agenda’ at Harvard

Ever since Kay Bailey Hutchison was whalloped in the Republican gubernatorial primary by Rick Perry, some have been holding out hope that our senior U.S. senator might get better on LGBT issues. After all, Hutchison may be eyeing retirement instead of re-election in 2012, so what does she have to lose politically? Given her moderate views on other social issues, such as abortion, some suspect Hutchison is personally more gay-friendly than her abysmal voting record indicates. She’s only voted against us consistently for the last 15 years, they say, because that’s the only way to get re-elected as a Republican in Texas.

Well, so much for that theory. Hutchison’s office never responded to our months-old inquiry about her position on the amendment that would repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” but she’s been sending letters to gay constituents indicating she’ll oppose it. And now, she’s announced that she’ll vote against Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Why? Well, because Kagan supported the gays when she limited access to military recruiters at Harvard University based on her opposition to DADT. From Hutchison’s statement:

“Her decision on military recruiters while at Harvard gives evidence of her personal views instructing her professional decisions in order to promote a social agenda. I simply cannot reconcile Ms. Kagan’s sparse record and my concerns about whether she will be an impartial arbiter of the law and so I will oppose her appointment.”


—  John Wright