QUEER CLIP: ‘THE IDES OF MARCH’

Queer-PicksRyan Gosling has discovered a cool little niche for himself recently: He gives equal time to parading around shirtless showing off his abs on magazine covers and in digestible Hollywood pabulum (Crazy Stupid Love, The Notebook) and staring off blankly under the guise of acting in regrettable art films (Drive, All Good Things). That formula has won him praise by easily fooled critics, who appear to be the target audience for The Ides of March, a slow and pretentious political thriller in which Gosling gets to be the love interest and the intellectual hero, all without betraying anything bordering on genuine emotion.

Set during a presidential primary, it’s little more than a middling episode of The West Wing, laden down with a weak performance by Evan Rachel Wood, a contrived, unconvincing political scandal involving candidate George Clooney (who also directs, woodenly) and even a self-important title. Vote “no” on this ballot measure. Please, Ryan, just strip and stop trying.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Two stars. In wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Anti-gay El Paso pastor faces IRS complaint for using tax-exempt church to fight DP benefits

Pastor Tom Brown of Word of Life Church was the driving force behind a ballot measure to repeal DP benefits in El Paso.

An anti-gay El Paso pastor is accused of illegally using his tax-emempt church to advocate political causes. The Rev. Tom Brown of Word of Life Church, who spearheaded last year’s ballot initiative rescinding domestic partner benefits for city employees, has now launched a petition to  recall council members who voted to restore DP benefits this June. The El Paso Times reports that Brown announced the recall petitions to his congregation last month and has written in support of them on his Tom Brown Ministries website, prompting a complaint to the IRS from Americans United for Separateion of Chruch and State:

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said his group files such complaints against about “eight or 10″ tax-exempt groups nationwide each election cycle.

His group has received several complaints about Brown’s activities from El Paso residents.

“This seems so over-the-top, so brazen an attempt to involve himself in a partisan political campaign,” Lynn said, explaining his group’s reason for filing the complaint.

When Brown’s wife ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat in May on an anti-DP benefits platform, she announced her campaign from the pulpit of the church and asked people to meet her in the vestibule if they wanted to volunteer. But it’s unclear if anyone filed a complaint about that incident. Brown denies all of the allegations and says the IRS complaint amounts to “harassment and persecution of anti-religious people against people of faith.”

In related news, the El Paso City Council voted Tuesday to hold a charter election in November 2012. One council member has proposed an anti-discrimination charter amendment that would prohibit the city from denying DP benefits to gay and lesbian employees.

The council, which initially approved DP benefits in 2009, voted to reinstate them last month after a federal judge upheld the ballot initiative rescinding them.

—  John Wright

Calif. AG: Prop 8 backers can’t defend marriage ban

Attorney General Kamala Harris

LISA LEFF | Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s attorney general has again come out against the state’s same-sex marriage ban, this time telling the state Supreme Court the proponents of successful ballot initiatives do not have the right to defend their measures in court.

Kamala Harris, a Democrat who succeeded Gov. Jerry Brown in January as attorney general, submitted an amicus brief Monday in the ongoing legal dispute over the voter-approved ban known as Proposition 8.

In it, she argued that only public officials exercising the executive power of government have authority to represent the state when laws passed by voters or the Legislature are challenged.

“California law affords an initiative’s proponents no right to defend the validity of a successful initiative measure based only on their role in launching an initiative process,” Harris wrote.

The question of where the role of ballot measure backers ends is critical to the legal fight over California’s ban on same-sex marriages. Both Brown and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to defend the 2008 constitutional amendment on appeal after a federal judge struck it down last summer as a violation of civil rights.

Proposition 8′s sponsors asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to step in, but the court punted the question to the California Supreme Court earlier this year, saying it was a matter of state law.

If the sponsors are not permitted to intervene, the lower court ruling overturning Proposition 8 will stand.

Lawyers for the coalition of religious and conservative groups that qualified the gay marriage measure for the ballot and campaigned for its passage have argued that initiative proponents need to be allowed to advocate for laws in court to prevent elected officials from effectively vetoing measures by not defending them in court.

Harris contended in her brief that rather than empowering citizens, granting the sponsors of initiatives the ability to overrule the governor and attorney general’s judgment “would rob the electors of power by taking the executive power from elected officials and placing it instead in the hands of a few highly motivated but politically unaccountable individuals.”

The California Supreme Court is expected to hold a hearing in the case before the end of the year.

Republican State Sen. Tom Harman of Orange County introduced a bill that would grant ballot measure sponsors the right to represent the state when elected officials refuse to defend enacted laws in court. The Senate Judiciary Committee defeated it on a 3-2 vote Tuesday.

—  John Wright

DP benefits becomes an election issue in El Paso, as anti-gay candidates pack ballot for council

Minister Manny Hinojosa, a candidate for El Paso City Council, is a leading opponent of DP benefits: “I’ve got God and the Holy Spirit on my side and if you ever get on your knees and pray you’ll find out,” Hinojosa said at City Council in November.

Anti-gay candidates are lining up to run for City Council in El Paso in the wake of the controversy over the council’s decision to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of city workers. ABC-7 reports that at least one candidate affiliated with a movement to rescind DP benefits has filed to run in every City Council race. After the City Council approved DP benefits, voters passed a ballot measure to rescind them in November. Groups representing city workers sued in federal court to block the ballot measure from being implemented, and a judge is expected to rule in the case in April. Watch video of the story here.

—  John Wright

Marriage equality battles ramping up across U.S.

N.H. Republicans working to repeal marriage law; other states offer mixed bag in legislative actions

DANA RUDOLPH | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

Two New Hampshire legislators have recently introduced bills to repeal that state’s marriage equality law, even though Republican leaders said Jan. 13 that such a repeal is not a party priority in 2011.

And several other states saw legislative moves toward or away from equality in recent weeks.

New Hampshire: State Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, and 11 cosponsors filed a bill that would repeal marriage equality and prevent New Hampshire from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples contracted outside the state. New Hampshire same-sex couples that married in the state before the bill became effective would continue to be recognized as married.

Same-sex couples that married in another state would no longer be recognized.

State Rep. Leo Pepino, R-Manchester, and five cosponsors filed a separate bill that would repeal marriage equality and prohibit civil unions or any other form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. The Associated Press reported Jan. 25, however, that Pepino will ask the committee hearing the bill “to retain it until next year when they have more time.”

Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who signed the original marriage equality bill into law, has said he would veto a repeal bill. But Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in both houses.

Mo Baxley, executive director of New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, said in an interview that she thinks marriage equality supporters can sustain the governor’s veto by finding supporters among older, more libertarian-leaning Republicans.

“The public is solidly on our side,” Baxley asserted, but he cautioned, “We can’t just presume that we’ve got the votes . . . .We’ve got to be full throttle out there.”

She said state Republicans also plan to introduce a bill next year for a ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. With a spotlight on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, she said, a ballot fight in 2012 could help motivate a stronger conservative turnout.

Maryland: Marriage equality bills were introduced into both the Senate and House in the past week. Democrats have a majority in both chambers. Gov. Martin O’Malley, also a Democrat, has said he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk. Cosponsor Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, said in a press briefing Jan.y 21 that he expects a fight on the Senate floor and will need 29 votes out of 47 to break a filibuster. An up-or-down vote on the bill, after the filibuster is broken, will require 24 votes. Democrats have a 35 to 12 majority in the Senate. A public hearing on the Senate bill is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Hawaii: The full Senate on Jan. 28 passed a bill to legalize civil unions for same- and opposite-sex couples. It now heads to the House, where it is expected to pass. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, has said he will sign it.

Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed a civil union bill Jan. 31 giving same- and opposite-sex couples many of the same rights as married ones.

Iowa: The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Jan. 24 that would allow voters to decide on a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. In the Senate, however, Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Indianola, attempted to bypass Senate rules and bring to the floor a vote on the Senate version of the bill. Democrats, who hold a 26-24 majority, voted down the attempt.

New Mexico: Three bills were introduced in the House and one in the Senate that would variously put before voters a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and ban New Mexico from recognizing such marriages enacted outside the state.

Wyoming: The House passed a measure Jan.y 25 to prevent the state from recognizing same-sex marriages contracted elsewhere. The next day, the state Senate passed a bill that would allow voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. A civil union bill introduced by openly gay State Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, failed by one vote to make it out of committee Jan. 28.

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Now that he’s screwed 200 out of health benefits, El Paso bigot Tom Brown wants to be left alone

Pastor Tom Brown

Pastor Tom Brown robbed hundreds of people of health insurance when he spearheaded a ballot measure that overturned domestic partner benefits for El Paso city employees. But now Brown wants the LGBT community and its supporters to just forget about it and stop protesting outside his Word of Life Church. KFOX Channel 8 reports:

After the council passed the ordinance, Pastor Tom Brown quickly gained enough signatures to send the decision of whether or not domestic partners should get health care benefits to the voters and the majority sided with him.

“Let’s all move on,” said Brown.

The group of protesters Tuesday, mostly composed of radio talk show hosts, said that is not going to happen.

“Don’t you think it’s a little late; the election’s over with,” said Brown.

The group said it’s never too late and this is just the beginning of what they call “Love” rallies.

“To me that’s not love when you mock other peoples’ lives,” said Brown.

The pastor said he hopes the protesters pick a better and more respectful location next time.

“This is a place where people have their particular views, and they shouldn’t be put to ridicule because a particular church doesn’t correspond to the public view,” said Brown.

Even The Wall Street Journal has taken notice of the DP benefits controversy in El Paso. The WSJ story posted Monday says the ballot initiative could eventually threaten health benefits for up to 6,000 people,, including retirees, because it was so vaguely worded. You see, Brown’s group couldn’t find an attorney to work on the initiative, so they just wrote it themselves. Now, the city’s labor unions are preparing a lawsuit, and the City Council is looking at ways to overturn the initiative:

The pastor, Tom Brown, is threatening to fight officials if they attempt to reinstate the benefits for gay partners. He has proposed another ballot initiative which would strip the city council of its power to amend or rescind voter-approved measures.

“I’m feeling a call from God to get more involved in our government,” Mr. Brown said in an interview.


—  John Wright