Equality Texas to honor allies

Adair Lion

Kaylee Anne Keith

Wrangle out that over-sized belt buckle, your 10-gallon hat and brush up on those two-stepping skills. Equality Texas, the LGBT advocacy group, will host its first-ever Texas-themed Ally Awards on Friday at the Vendome on Turtle Creek Boulevard. This year’s honoree recipients are: J.C. Penney for Business of the Year, rapper/singer/producer Adair Lion and Miss West Texas Kaylee Anne Keith for Individuals of the Year; and President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for Civic Leaders of the Year.

Dennis Coleman, executive director for Equality Texas, said the idea for an ally awards benefit was created after seeing the success of  Equality Utah and Equality Colorado’s Ally Awards banquets. The winners were chosen from an online poll earlier this year. “We cannot do this on our own word. We need our allies. They have been important for the fight for equality,” said Coleman. “We are hoping this becomes a catalyst for larger things to come, like our friends in Colorado.”

In May, J.C. Penney published an ad featuring a lesbian couple in their Mother’s Day circulation, and recently another ad featuring Dallas gay couple Cooper Smith and Todd Koch and their two children. J.C. Penney received a lot of backlash, specifically from the group One Million Moms, but has stood by its decision to represent diverse families.

—  admin

‘Gay Republican from Dallas’ featured in the HuffPo says he’s not really a gay Republican

President Barack Obama

Last Friday the Huffington Post published this piece about the question of whether President Barack Obama’s decision to come out for same-sex marriage will have any impact on gay Republican voters this November. Although this is a no-brainer when it comes to die-hards like Rob Schlein, it turns out some gay GOPers were indeed swayed by the president’s historic decision. And one of them, according to the HuffPo, was Bill Jones, “a 45-year-old gay Republican from Dallas” who’s considering voting for a Democrat for president for the first time in his life.

“It stopped me dead in my tracks because it removed the one rationalization I always had,” Jones told the HuffPo of Obama’s announcement. “… I used to be very good at compartmentalizing. But it does make a difference now that Obama has said what he’s said. I can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.”

On Monday we caught up with Jones to learn more. He said it all began when was listening to Michalangelo Signorile’s Sirius OutQ radio show about the topic last Thursday, and he called in on a whim from his car. (Signorile is an editor for HuffPo.) Jones never made it on the air as he had to hang up to go to an appointment. But the producer passed on his name and number to the HuffPo’s reporter, who called him the next day.

Jones said his only issue with the HuffPo piece is that it makes it sound like he’s still a Republican. Although there is no such thing as an official party affiliation in Texas, Jones said his personal shift away from the GOP began several years ago. While Obama’s announcement may have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” his switch was “a long time coming,” Jones said.

“I wouldn’t consider myself Republican anymore,” Jones said. “The funny thing is that most of my friends don’t even know that I used to be conservative. A lot of my current friends, I don’t necessarily want to know that. It made it seem like I was still that way, and I’m really not. … I just don’t want to look like a crazy fool to friends.”

Jones asked us not to repost the photo of him and Dan Quayle that’s featured alongside the Huff Po story — or any photo of him for that matter — in part because some of the comments below the article were “really hateful.” But despite his concerns about being outed as an ex-gay-Republican to friends, Jones said he think’s the HuffPo story addresses an important topic. In addition to Obama’s announcement, he pointed to a gay soldier being booed during a Republican Primary debate last year — and none of the candidates on stage intervening — as a key step in his evolution.

“As I’ve gotten older, and more established with my partner, you kind of start to resent the fact that you can’t be like the other couples that you’re associating with,” Jones said. “I think it’s important for the conversation to happen, because I think other conservatives or people who lean that way, need to start putting this [gay rights] as a higher priority. I think it’s important to put it out there for discussion.”

 

—  John Wright

Elected officials, newspapers in Texas largely silent on Obama’s support for marriage equality

Not surprisingly, we haven’t heard a whole hell of a lot from elected officials in Texas about President Barack Obama’s decision to come out in support of marriage equality.

That may be because some Texas Republicans are reluctant to slam the president too hard given how quickly public opinion is changing on this issue, while some Democrats may be reluctant to lavish too much praise because, after all, it is still Texas.

But you can always count on State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, to speak up anytime we cross a significant milestone in the fight for full LGBT equality. Coleman, a staunch LGBT ally who happens to be facing an openly gay challenger in the Democratic Primary, sent out the below statement in an email on Friday, along with an image of the brilliant editorial cartoon by the Houston Chronicle’s Nick Anderson that I’ve posted above. (On a side note, it doesn’t appear as though the Chronicle has actually published an editorial in support of Obama’s announcement. The San Angelo Standard Times did so over the weekend, but I’m not aware of any other newspapers in Texas that have, including both The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Which is shameful.)

Anyhow, here’s what Coleman had to say in his email:

Like so many others over the years, President Obama has finally come to realize that there is no “separate but equal” when it comes to marriage rights. Civil Unions that grant equal rights are simply not good enough. Marriage is a special bond that for far too long this country has withheld from gays and lesbians. I, and many others, have been fighting for marriage equality for years, and now we have the President on our side.

We still do not have marriage equality in Texas, but the tide is turning. It is only a matter of time now before we are all treated equally under the eyes of the law. This is a civil rights issue, and Reverend Al Sharpton said it best: “We cannot be selective with civil rights. We must support civil rights for everybody or we don’t support them for anyone.”

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Obama backs marriage equality


In a historic breakthrough for LGBT equality, President Barack Obama today came out in support of same-sex marriage during an exclusive interview with ABC News. Here’s what Obama said:

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

Here’s the video:

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We’ve posted a full story here.

And below are some of the initial reactions to Obama’s announcement:

—  John Wright

NYT allows Republican to twist debate over nondiscrimination for federal contractors

Linda Chavez

The New York Times ran an editorial today by Linda Chavez, a Reagan White House adviser. In it, she praised President Barack Obama for not signing an executive order that would prevent employment discrimination by federal contractors.

With the Employment Non-Discriminiation Act stalled in Congress, LGBT rights leaders have been pressing the White House to issue an executive order that would require federal contractors to have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Chavez misrepresents the executive order. She wrote:

When it comes to granting gays special preference, however, such as in the awarding of government contracts, most people draw the line.

Gays would not be granted preference. The executive order LGBT organizations want Obama to sign is about companies having nondiscrimination policies. It is not about the federal government adding quotas or requiring a certain number of contracts be written with LGBT companies.

She continues:

Anyone who has studied the issue of racial, ethnic and gender preferences in government contracting knows that such executive orders go far beyond simple nondiscrimination. Their purpose is to encourage preferences for certain underrepresented groups.

And concludes with this piece that sums up her totally irrelevant editorial:

There is little evidence that gays are being denied the right to compete fairly for government contracts now — and no reason to give them special preference.

No one has suggested anything like this. No one in the LGBT community wants the billion dollars of federal money that has gone to Exxon in the past few years to go to a gay-owned oil company. The LGBT community simply wants Exxon to stop discriminating against its own employees.

The Washington Post got it right on the executive order. Fox News simply ignored the issue. Does the New York Times suddenly feel the need to be so “fair and balanced” that it allows its editorial writers to lie?

—  David Taffet

Annise Parker says Mike Rawlings ‘will eventually come around’ on same-sex marriage pledge

Mayor Annise Parker

But Houston mayor says she’d be ‘shocked’ if Obama evolves on marriage equality before November

During her opening remarks at the third annual Haas LGBT Journalists convention in Houston this past Friday, openly lesbian Mayor Annise Parker said that when President Barack Obama called to congratulate her on her successful mayoral bid in 2009, Parker was in an interview with her phone on silent and let his go to voicemail.

“You would think that the president of the United States would have somebody that could call ahead and say, ‘The President’s gonna call you — answer the damned phone!’” Parker told the crowd of journalists. “But no. But it did make for a nice souvenir for about a week until I accidentally erased it.”

She then went on to take “no-holds-barred” questions from the journalists about reproductive rights, conservative Christians, marrying her partner and whether the Democratic party will support marriage equality in the 2012 election. We snagged her best quotes for you below:

—  Daniel Villarreal

Will black Obama supporters defeat marriage equality in states like Maryland in November?

President Barack Obama

The Maryland Senate voted 25-22 today to legalize same-sex marriage, and the bill now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who will sign it. However, the new law won’t take effect until January, which allows opponents to put a referendum on the ballot in November if they can gather 55,736 signatures.

Meanwhile, in Maine, the secretary of state has confirmed enough valid signatures from same-sex marriage supporters to get the issue on the November ballot. In 2009, Maine voters rejected marriage equality by 53 percent to 47 percent, but polls show a majority now support it.

In any case, it now appears almost certain that marriage equality will be on the ballot in at least a handful of states this year. And gay activist John Aravosis at Americablog says that’s why it’s critical for President Barack Obama to hurry up and complete his evolution on the issue:

The President obviously wants us all to get out the vote in November. But there are key constituencies with whom the President has great sway, and who are not terribly good on gay rights issues as compared to other Democrats. Why does that matter?  Well, take Maryland.  Maryland will likely see an effort on the November ballot to repeal the just-passed marriage equality legislation.  Nearly a third of Marylanders are African-American.  And black Democrats in Maryland are twice as opposed to same-sex marriage as white Democrats in the state.

—  John Wright

Marriage support from an unexpected source

Vice President Dick Cheney

One former Dallas resident not usually known for his liberal positions is lobbying legislators in Maryland to support marriage equality.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Dick Cheney — yes, that Dick Cheney, the former Vice President — is lending his support to passage of a bill sponsored by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. The Cheneys now live in Maryland.

Cheney’s daughter is lesbian, and he has always supported her and her relationship with partner Heather Poe. But by taking a position in favor of marriage equality he’s taking a position more liberal than that of Presidents Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act that allows states to not recognize marriage performed by other states.

Also lobbying Maryland lawmakers is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who worked for passage of the New York state law last year.

In other marriage news, marriage equality passed the New Jersey Assembly and was forwarded to Gov. Chris Christie, who promptly vetoed it. Supporters have until the end of the legislative session in January 2014 to override.

—  David Taffet

Lawsuit accuses St. Luke pastor of homosexual harassment

Minister at iconic black Methodist church in Dallas steps down amid allegations he coerced young men

gordon.tyrone

The Rev. Tyrone D. Gordon

DAVID WEBB  |  Contributing Writer
davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com

A lawsuit filed against St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas and its former senior pastor, the Rev. Tyrone D. Gordon, portrays the pastoral office of the predominantly African-American church in Southeast Dallas as a hotbed of homosexual harassment.

St. Luke, with 5,000 members, is one of the largest African-American churches in the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. St. Luke isn’t one of the six gay-affirming Methodist churches in the Dallas area, but its congregation includes some LGBT members.

The Rev. Zan Holmes, who preceded Gordon’s appointment in 2002 as senior pastor at St. Luke, is a respected civil rights leader. The church is known as a center for community activism, and it has attracted prominent members such as Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a U.S. trade representative appointed by President Barack Obama.

Thus far, church leaders at St. Luke and the North Texas Conference have remained silent about the lawsuit, as has Gordon, who announced his resignation as senior pastor from St. Luke in January to take effect on Wednesday, Feb. 15. On that date Holmes, who has also kept silent, will return as interim minister.

W. Earl Bledsoe, the bishop of the North Texas Conference, released a statement at the time of the resignation noting Gordon gave up his credentials during the investigation of complaints lodged against him by St. Luke church members.

The Rev. Eric Folkerth, pastor of the gay-affirmative Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, said in a telephone interview this week that his reaction to the news of the lawsuit was one of “deep sadness and sorrow.” Folkerth said he hopes the controversy will be viewed as a “sexual abuse of authority,” rather than in terms of the sexual orientation involved.

“I am hoping, praying and trusting that hopefully all of this will be dealt with appropriately in the church and in the legal system,” Folkerth said.

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The Rev. Cameron Greer

The Rev. Cameron Jerrod Greer, 26, who is a graduate student at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and a pastor ministering at Cockrell Hill United Methodist Church, alleges in the lawsuit, filed on Feb. 3 in 101st District Court in Dallas, that Gordon, 53, sexually harassed him and several other young male members of the church for at least seven years.

In the petition filed by Dallas attorney and St. Luke church member Marilynn Mayse, Greer alleges that in 2003 and 2004, beginning when Greer was 18, Gordon rubbed his penis up against Greer’s buttocks on more than one occasion in front of four other young men who appeared to regard the activity as “normal behavior.”

In another instance, Greer alleges he observed a young man wiping sweat off of Gordon’s body as the pastor stood in his underwear with his pants lowered. Greer, who worked as an audiovisual technician at St. Luke, alleges in the lawsuit that he observed numerous instances of inappropriate behavior by Gordon involving young men.

The incidents often occurred in Gordon’s church office and sometimes between two Sunday services, according to the lawsuit.

Greer also alleges that Gordon invited him to his home in August 2004 when the pastor’s wife was out of town to discuss the young man’s plans to become a Methodist minister. Gordon allegedly prepared one of Greer’s favorite meals, spaghetti, and invited the young man to watch a movie with him. While sitting on the sofa Gordon allegedly moved closer to Greer but was interrupted by the arrival of one of Gordon’s two daughters.

In two other alleged incidents in 2009 and 2010, Greer claims in the lawsuit that, while he was serving as a pastor at First United Methodist Church in Seagoville, he visited Gordon at St. Luke, where Gordon insisted on hugging him and rubbed his penis against him. Greer adds in the petition that he asked Gordon to be a guest preacher at the Seagoville church, and Gordon implied that Greer would have to do “something” for him in return.

The lawsuit alleges that St. Luke church leaders had been informed about complaints of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment made by church employees and members against Gordon as early as 2006, but they took no action. It also claims that church leaders failed to protect Greer and other young men from Gordon’s alleged harassment.

In the lawsuit, Greer explains his delay in lodging complaints against Gordon as part of a process that was required to address the “issues” and to begin a “quest toward healing.”

The lawsuit, which accuses church officials of breach of duties, claims Greer has suffered “severe emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, and adverse physical consequences, physical pain and suffering.” It seeks unspecified punitive damages.

The lawsuit describes Gordon as a “predator” who used his spiritual authority to “coerce certain young male members and employees” into “sexual acts and relationships for his own personal sexual gratification.”

Gordon, who was born in Los Angeles, received a bachelor’s degree from Bishop College in Dallas, and he did his graduate work at Fuller

Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. He came to St. Luke as senior pastor after serving as senior pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kan.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

For Valentine’s Day, a resonant tale of ‘Loving’ and marriage

lovingstory03The very title of the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia is almost too perfect not to respect the irony of what it represented.

In 1958, Richard Loving married a half-black, half-Native American named Mildred in D.C., then returned to their home in rural Virginia. A month later, sheriff’s deputies entered their bedroom as they slept, arresting them for violating the state’s anti-miscegenation law, which forbid mixing of the races. They were jailed, convicted and eventually banished from the state in a manner more akin to ancient Rome than modern-day America.

Virginia was hardly unique — as Barack Obama’s parents could probably tell you, 21 states banned mixed-race marriages in 1958. It would take nine years, following protracted legal wrangling, before the Lovings could live openly and legally as Virginians.

It is impossible to watch The Loving Story — which debuts on HBO, again ironically, on Valentine’s Day — and not consider it (especially in light of the events this week) as it relates to Proposition 8 and the rights of gays to wed. Indeed, the statement by one of the lawyers representing the Lovings that “marriage is a fundamental right of man” — spoken more than 40 years ago — resonates sharply for any gay person who has felt a lesser person because of the bigotry and antiquated thinking of considering a fellow man as being “other” … whether by race or sexual orientation.

There’s surprisingly little directorial commentary in this documentary, which is made up substantially of real-time newsreel and other footage of the Lovings at home and on TV, and their lawyers strategizing. Little comment is needed, especially when the offensive language of the courts speaks volumes: The races were meant to stay on separate continents, the Virginia county judge opined, cuz that’s how God wanted it.

Two things especially stand out in The Loving Story. The first is the couple at the center of it: A man and a woman of modest means and humble background who simply and truly were in love and wanted to live as man and wife and couldn’t understand what they were doing wrong. The second is that the arguments made — back then and now, on both sides — apply equally to same-sex marriage issues. We’ve come a long way, but damn, we still have so far to go.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Four stars. Airs Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. on HBO.

—  Kevin Thomas