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

“Youth of the Union” conference brings young progressives to U of H

Rep. Jessica Farrar, keynote speaker at the Youth of the Union Conference

While much attention has been paid to the contribution of the youth vote in President Obama’s 2008 victory, there’s been less recognition of the effect it had in other elections. “In 2008 young voters came out in record numbers for progressive candidates,” says Brad Pritchett, one of the organizers behind this Saturday’s “Youth of the Union” conference at the University of Houston. “When young people are engaged on the issues and empowered to vote, they will.”

In Harris County that 2008 youth surge contributed to the election of Texas’ first out elected LGBT judge, Steven Kirkland, and helped turn 14 of the county’s 26 Texas House districts Democratic. Pritchett says that, while it’s easy to focus on the presidential races, judicial and legislative seats on the ballot in 2012 are crucial to progressive issues like LGBT equality and will be largely determined by whether or not the young people who came out in 2008 return to the polls this year.

The Youth of the Union Conference is sponsored by a number of Democratic Party organizations, including the National Stonewall Democrats, an LGBT Democratic club, but is designed for young progressives across the across the spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities. The conference kicks off at 11 am Saturday, February 4, at the University of Houston’s University Center with a “young and involved” panel and includes workshops on becoming a Democratic delegate, influencing the party platform, the effect of recent photo ID legislation and more.

State Representative Jessica Farrar, who last year introduced legislation to repeal Texas’ unconstitutional law criminalizing “Homosexual Conduct” is the keynote speaker. Farrar was just 27 years old when she was first elected to the Texas House in 1994.

Pritchett says that registration is closed but that a limited number of “at-the-door” registrations are available on a first come first served basis.

For more information visit youthoftheunion.com.

—  admin

Same-sex marriage returns to political spotlight

Issue could appear on ballot in as many as 6 states this year

NEW YORK — Same-sex marriage is back in the political spotlight and likely to remain there through Election Day in November as a half-dozen states face potentially wrenching votes on the issue.

In New Hampshire, Republicans who now control the legislature are mulling whether to repeal the 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage. Their state is one of six with such laws, along with Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont, as well as the capital district of Washington.

In Maryland, New Jersey and Washington state, bills to legalize same-sex marriage have high-powered support and good chances of passage in the legislature. Gay-marriage opponents in Maryland and Washington would likely react by seeking referendums in November to overturn those laws, while New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, says he’ll veto the bill if it reaches him and prefers that lawmakers OK a referendum so voters can decide.

In all three states, polls suggest voters are closely divided on whether gays should have the right to marry, so there’s a chance one could emerge as the first state to support same-sex marriage in a statewide vote.

Three of the remaining Republican presidential contenders, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have signed a National Organization for Marriage pledge opposing same-sex marriage and endorsing a federal constitutional amendment to ban it. But it’s not among the topics prominent in the stump speeches of Romney or Newt Gingrich, the two front-runners.

On the Democratic side, President Barack Obama has taken several steps during his first term that have pleased gay-rights advocates, but says he is still “evolving” in regard to same-sex marriage and isn’t ready to endorse it. Some activists hope he will do so before the election, though there’s been no strong hint of that from the White House.

“Obama will get asked about it, and you can’t straddle both sides of this forever,” said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights. “Clearly he’s not going to retreat, so he only has one place to go, and I think he will do it before the election.”

Maine voters also may have an opportunity to vote for same-sex marriage in November; gay-rights activists announced Thursday they are moving forward with a ballot-measure campaign, submitting more than 105,000 signatures to the Secretary of State. Proposed amendments for constitutional bans on gay marriage will be on the ballots in North Carolina on May 8 and in Minnesota on Nov. 6.

Added together, the state-level showdowns will likely raise the prominence of the marriage issue in the presidential campaign, even though it’s not a topic that the leading candidates tend to broach proactively.

Another potential factor: Judgments could be issued during the campaign in one or more of several pending federal court cases about same-sex marriage. Appeals could result in the issue heading toward the Supreme Court, and the presidential candidates would be expected to comment on any major development.

In all the showdown states, national advocacy groups are expected to be active on both sides. The Human Rights Campaign, for example, has promised to provide funding, strategic advice and field staff for the various campaigns supporting same-sex marriage.

On the other side, the National Organization for Marriage is vowing a multistate effort, including promises of financial support in the primaries to defeat any Republican lawmakers who support gay marriage in Washington.

Though several major national polls now show that a slight majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown predicts his side will continue its winning streak and prevail in any state referendums that are held this November.

“There’s a myth that history is on a trajectory moving toward same-sex marriage,” Brown said. “There is no such momentum.”

—  John Wright

Stonewall Democrats to host watch party for SOTU, which will include 2 special lesbian guests

Ginger Wallace, left, and Lorelei Kilker

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas will host its second annual watch party at the Brick tonight during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address.

The Washington Blade reports that two lesbians are among those who’ve been invited to sit in first lady Michelle Obama’s gallery during the address. They are Lorelei Kilker, an analytical chemist from Colorado who was involved in a landmark sex discrimination case against her employer; and Air Force Col. Ginger Wallace, who’s training to deploy to Afghanistan and is the first service member to have a same-sex partner participate in a pinning-on promotion ceremony.

Others who’ll be sitting in the first lady’s gallery include San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has served as grand marshal of the city’s gay Pride parade and who recently signed a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

The Blade also takes a look at the question of whether Obama will endorse same-sex marriage — or otherwise mention LGBT issues — during his speech.

Stonewall’s watch party begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Brick, 2525 Wycliff, Suite 120.

Read the White House’s bios of Castro, Kilker and Wallace after the jump.

—  John Wright

Tea party group makes surprising endorsement

The tea party is certainly not one unified political organization. And as a group the tea party has not backed any one particular GOP presidential candidate. While many supported Michele Bachmann, there’s been no consensus. But most tea party support has gone to Republicans and most tea party candidates have run as Republicans.

President Barack Obama

But one Tea Party endorsement is surprising. A group has formed called Tea Party for Obama.

Huh?

Well, they explain.

“We manned up and realized that the problem is that the recession began during the previous administration,” they wrote.

They wrote that they’re tired of being called nut jobs and racists and looked at all the candidates and found no one to support on the Republican side. So they looked at Barack Obama’s record.

Reducing the size of government and the amount people pay in taxes are two main tea party demands.

Just a few weeks ago, the president proposed combining agencies to reduce the size of government and make it easier to do business with the government.

And taxes?

“Last time we checked, Obama forced GOP in Congress to approve tax cuts for payroll,” they wrote.

Here’s Tea Party for Obama’s list of the president’s accomplishments:

• Reduced government size
• Largest tax cut ever
• Provided health care for everyone
• Protected Medicare
• Saved country from the worst recession ever
• Saved the U.S. auto industry
• Took out Osama bin Laden

So is this an actual tea party group or is this a group of Democrats co-opting the tea party name for attention? The website doesn’t give a clue because no names or other information is included.

—  David Taffet