BREAKING NEWS: HERO petition rejected but city will delay implementation

Parker.AnniseThe Houston Equal Rights Ordinance will not appear on the November ballot, Mayor Annise Parker announced at a press conference today.

“The petition is simply invalid,” said David Feldman, the city’s attorney.

Officials said there were too many irregularities in the petition. Some of the pages weren’t notarized, and too many of the signatures were not registered voters, they said. Feldman said, essentially, that there were so many problems with the petition as it was submitted that the city couldn’t accept it.

Mayor Annise Parker predicted that opponents will take legal action. Because of expected legal action, she will then delay implementation of the ordinance.

The petition was submitted by opponents of the ordinance, which added protections for the LGBT and other communities.

The decision came as proponents of the ordinance questioned the legitimacy and tactics of the petition drive lead by opponents, putting in to doubt whether or not the drive would succeed.

Late last week, an anonymous group published the names of the signatories, calling for transparency and independent reviews of each signature. Among the names found by this reporter are State Rep. Dwayne Bohac and Ryan Patrick, the son of Republican lieutenant governor nominee and state Senator Dan Patrick.

Under state law, petitions submitted to government agencies are public record.

—  James Russell

Is someone at Liberty University going to hell for hiring a gay?

Goldberg

Liberty University hired this gay

The Christian Post reported that Liberty University — What? Yes, I read the Christian Post, so you don’t have to, now stop interrupting.

The Christian Post reported yesterday that Liberty University — the school Jerry Falwell founded — hired gay dancer Geoffrey Goldberg to choreograph its production of Mary Poppins.

As the Christian Post put it, “the conservative Christian school’s stage company had sought the services of an ‘open homosexual advocate.’”

The school, to its credit, issued this statement to blogger Benjamin Corey:

“The choreographer in question is an independent contractor supplied to the university through a third party association and has never applied for employment at Liberty University and has never been an employee of Liberty. Liberty has never required vendors who provide goods and services to the university to adhere to the university’s doctrinal beliefs.”

To make things worse, Liberty’s stage company director Linda Nell Cooper told Christian News Network, she hired Goldberg “based on his professionalism and his talent like everyone else.”

And just what makes Goldberg so qualified?

He was in the original Broadway production of Mary Poppins.

The world is certainly coming to an end when theater is taken over by the gays — even at Liberty University. What makes this even more delicious, and The Christian Post  seems to have missed this, the school not only got a gay, but they got a gay Jew.

Mary Poppins opens tonight, in case you happen to be in Lynchburg, Va.

—  David Taffet

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

Why do I attract all the crazies?

I got the follow press release recently:

GREENVILLE, NC. – CHRISTIANITY: Soon to be illegal? …. That’s exactly what author Bill Arcand predicts in his inspiring fictional story that gives readers a look into the near future of Christianity in the United States.

Sometimes all it takes is one man’s divinely inspired written word to make the much-needed changes to society. Arcand’s fictional story, The Recurring Dream, is a cautionary tale of what could happen if America continues down the treacherous road it is on. This divinely inspired book gives readers hope and provides direction to Christians throughout the United States.

Author Bill Arcand received literary direction from God, which resulted in his book, The Recurring Dream. The book warns readers about the repercussions of taking Christianity out of American’s everyday lives through an intricately weaved story highlighting both real life and a character’s dream.

“In 2008, as I was praying and very concerned on where our country was heading, I asked God to have mercy on America and asked what I could do to help,” Arcand says. “That’s when I was inspired by God to write a book. I said ‘Okay Lord,’ and I just started writing.”

I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say, if there is one religion that doesn’t need to worry about being outlawed in the U.S., it is Christianity. But the way they Far Right has usurped the discussion is frightening. The argument is: We have radical ideas (often not biblically based, but try tell them that) which preach hatred, bigotry and bias against those who feel differently, and have an absolute right to have to government condone our hatred with tax exemptions and other benefits. Then, when some of the non-partisan citizens of this country complain that we are hate-mongers and shouldn’t be entitled to discriminate, we are labeled the “bad guys.” But since our hatred is religiously centered, denying us these biases destroys who we are!

Funny thing is, these are the same folks who pass laws in Oklahoma forbidding the recognition of Sharia law in any context, and who want to use the (secular) marriage licensing function of the state to deny public benefits to gays. The irony is, no one on the (so-called) radical left wants to do away with any religion — in fact, it’s a precept of liberalism to live and let live, and to allow people their First Amendment right to practice their religion… just not to force that religion on others who disagree.

To these kinds of Christians, disagreement is subversion, equality is anti-God-communism draped in tolerance and anyone who opposes the fire-bombing of abortion clinics hates Jesus. Have we entered the Middle Ages — no, the Dark Ages — again? Would God really tell this moron to write a book condemning secularism? As I understood my catechism, God loves all His children, believers and non-believers alike. What could it possibly matter to Him if America goes down one “path?” Aren’t we saved no matter what?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Did Rick Perry come out in support of gays? (No, of course not, don’t be an idiot)

This is what frustrates me the most about dealing with hypocrites: They can’t keep their bigotry and their demagoguery straight.

Last month, the Texas Governor and GOP hopeless (let’s face it — he can’t be hopeful) ran an ad in Iowa in which he expressed a degree of disgust that “gays can serve openly in the military” but children can’t celebrate Christmas (huh?). He was taken to task by an Iowa teen, and again reiterated his hate-mongering.

But now that the Iowa caucuses are down to the wire, Perry is desperate to show his conservative roots. So all weekend, he’s been touting his serious commitment to supporting veterans who deserve our help — for instance, through care at VA hospitals and with job assistance and family services — after they return from overseas.

Well, since he obviously knows gays actually do serve — one of the few facts he’s gotten right in a while — then it logically follows Perry would condemn any employers who discriminate again a gay serviceman applying for a job, or would endorse an extension to same-sex spouses of veterans of  health another benefits for their injured spouses.

Only I’m sure he doesn’t.

So basically, it means you can believe a word Perry says, because his rules have a litmus test: You must first share his perverse religious faith that teaches hatred toward our fellow man in order to understand who, exactly, is entitled to our support. It seems to me a little like Orwell’s “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

So give us a straight answer, Rick: Do you unconditionally support returning veterans, or did you lie yet again? Because logic demands it be one or the other… though logic never seemed to matter to folks like him before.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Florida Family Association’ founder moves from anti-gay campaigns to anti-Muslim efforts

I don’t watch reality shows, for the most part, and I haven’t watched The Learning Channel‘s new reality offering called All-American Muslim. From what I understand, after the first couple of episodes, the show is not getting good reviews.

David Caton of the Florida Family Association

But it is getting a lot of attention, thanks in large part to the Florida Family Association’s campaign to get advertisers to pull existing ads and not agree to advertise on the show in the future. Of course, FFA’s campaign has nothing to do with the quality of the program, and everything to do with David Caton‘s anti-Muslim bigotry.

Caton, who is executive director — and the only staff member — for FFA, claims All-American Muslim is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

TLC’s website for All-American Muslim explains that the show takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan — home to the largest mosque in the United States — through the lens of five Muslim American families.” One of the men on the show, Mike Jaafar, is a deputy chief sheriff, something Caton apparently takes great exception to. On the FFA website, Caton says, “One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated ‘I really am American.  No ifs and or buts about it.’”

Personally, I don’t see anything particularly troubling about a deputy chief sheriff making such a declaration, but Caton says Jaafar’s statement is “damage control for the Dearborn Police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity.”

Anyway, Caton claims FFA’s efforts have convinced Lowe’s and Kayak.com to pull their advertising from the TLC program. I don’t know about Lowe’s, but Robert Birge, chief marketing officer for Kayak.com, said his company’s decision regarding advertising on the program had nothing to do with Caton and the FFA; he said the company would no longer advertise on the program because All-American Muslim “sucked.” He also said TLC had misled his company about the content of the program, and that Kayak.com had not actually pulled advertising but instead had decided not to renew advertising on the program, according to this report by Reuters.

So by now you may be wondering why an LGBT news site is reporting on a boycott of a show about Muslims. I mean, the Islamic faith is not known for its progressive stance on LGBT issues.

The reason, actually, is simple: Bigotry is bigotry is bigotry. The right-winger that is so up in arms about a TV program possibly showing Muslim people in a positive light is the same right-winger who made a name for himself fighting LGBT rights.

—  admin

Another misstep for Perry’s campaign

 

Hateful bigotry of Texas governor’s presidential campaign ad is surpassed only by its asininity

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Just when I thought the 2012 Rick Perry for President campaign couldn’t get any nuttier, guess what? Yep, it managed to get sillier with the release of Gov. Perry’s campaign video attacking openly gay and lesbian members of the U.S. Armed Services.

Never mind that in the video dubbed “Strong” Perry is wearing the same type of tan Carhartt ranch coat actor Heath Ledger wore in the gay romance movie Brokeback Mountain, and that the video’s musical score was inspired by gay American composer Aaron Copland. The message is ridiculous, and the video’s distinction of registering more than half a million “dislikes” (646,000 dislikes to 20,000 likes) is probably attributable as much to its asininity as its hateful bigotry.

Facing the camera, against a wooded backdrop that conjures images of the big gay movie’s outdoor scenes, Perry declares that he is not “ashamed to admit” he is a Christian.

“You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that something is wrong when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas and pray in schools,” he declares.

Perry adds that as president he would “end Obama’s war on religion” and “fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”

Aside from the imagery and the music of the video making Perry and his campaign staff again look like fools, the idea that openly gay and lesbian members of the military somehow undermine Christianity is ludicrous. Or are children supposed to resent gay and lesbian soldiers because they get to go off and fight wars while they are stuck at school, unable to pray out loud?

I doubt that it will come as a shock to Perry, his staff, the voting public or even school children that there are openly gay and lesbian people working in every level of local, state and federal government and private business — even churches — without harm to Christianity. Yet for some reason they expect everyone to swallow the notion that openly gay and lesbian members of the military will put the nation under the control of pagans.

What about openly gay and lesbian soldiers who observe Christianity by going to church, reading their Bibles and praying? Are they to be the demise of their own religion?

And do U.S. citizens who are Jewish or members of other faiths matter at all to Perry and his campaign staff? Under the Perry plan, are the children of those citizens to be indoctrinated into Christianity?

As to Perry’s promise in the video’s closing, it would be news to everybody if it were learned President Obama had declared a war on religion. Those laws regulating Christmas displays and school prayer were put in motion decades ago, a long time before Obama ever thought about running for political office.

Open prayer in school was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962 when Perry was in grade school. Surely he remembers.

Ultimately, I can’t imagine many people viewing the overturn of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which was supported by a majority of the American public, enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama, as an assault on Christianity.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week that Obama was probably not aware of the Perry campaign video claiming he had declared war on Christianity, but regardless the president is proud of his support of LGBT issues.

The video looks like evidence of the Perry campaign’s desperation following the governor’s disintegration in national polls since his announcement in August he would run for president. Perry dropped from a double-digit front leader status to 5 percent following a series of debate missteps and disastrous public appearances that showed him to be outmatched on the debate stage by every other Republican in the campaign.

A new American Research Poll shows Perry now has 13 percentage points in Iowa, the first primary state. But he still is in back of the pack, far behind Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

Regardless of where Perry goes in the polls, I’m confident he will again sabotage himself in some manner, unless he has an undercover gay or lesbian person on his campaign staff doing it for him.

Speaking of which, after Perry’s anti-gay ad was released, leaders from the gay Republican group GOProud outed one of the campaign’s consultants as gay. It was later learned that the consultant, Tony Fabrizio, had written an email prior to the ad’s release calling it “nuts.”

But aside from that effort and the obvious aspect of Fabrizio being a traitor who apparently has sacrificed the LGBT community to make a few bucks for himself, he doesn’t appear to have been doing a good job of using his expertise as a gay man to help Perry navigate difficult waters. Who will ever forget the image of Perry deep-throating a corn dog at an Iowa state fair while Romney graciously nibbled on his?

What were they thinking when they handed a corn dog to Perry, who has been fighting rumors that he is secretly gay for years?

In fact, a common question today is, “How did he ever go so far in Texas politics?”

There is only one group of people — other than personal friends, relatives and other beneficiaries of the governor’s influence as an elected official — to whom Perry still appeals: That is conservative Christians who put their religious beliefs ahead of every other consideration, regardless of whose rights get trampled upon in the process.

No wonder Perry released such a video and continues to offer it on his campaign website, but I don’t think there are enough of them to vote him into office.

Many people who started off supporting Perry have now fled from his camp, saying that his performance as a presidential candidate has brought about a national embarrassment. The worst part of it is that there is no telling what Perry and his campaign will do next. But it’s bound to be a dilly.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. Contact him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com or http://therarereporter.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Mississippi embryo law is so dumb, it could be brilliant

I’m actually pretty excited about this Mississippi legislative bill that would declare every everyone, including a fertilized embryo, a “person” in order to essentially turn abortion into murder, because these morons obviously know nothing about the law of unintended consequences. Here are the arguments I wanna see made in Mississippi if the law passes:

• If I were an illegal aliens, I would get knocked up and stay knocked up. Any child conceived in Mississippi, under that law, would be entitled to all the protections of law, including citizenship. Their mothers can’t be deported because that would deny the rights of the unborn (but legal) child. The embryo would also be entitled to state benefits from the moment conceived. In fact, you could just claim it with a home pregnancy test.

• If an embryo is a human and frozen as part of in vitro, I would open a huge embryo storage warehouse in a remote area of the state. I would then declare all of these embryos, as “people,” entitled to be counted in the census and for purposes of congressional representation. Same with all the pregnant women. Suddenly, maybe a few hundred voting-aged folks will be entitled to several congressmen … maybe even in minority districts. (Wouldn’t it be funny if all the embryos were of white babies, but all the adults voters were minorities? The district would be technically not minority, but the practical political effect would be that it was.)

• If you can prove that a Mississippi resident was pregnant and went to another state to have an abortion, then returned to Mississippi, I don’t see why you couldn’t prosecute that woman for murder.

• Since the embryo is a person, those exceptions pro-lifers are always willing to concede — health/life of the mother, rape, incest — cannot be used. I can’t wait until the daughter of  head of the Republican party has an ectopic pregnancy, or a serious condition that makes carrying a baby life-threatening. She can go to jail for saving her own life and see how Daddy feels about it. Or she can die. Her choice.

Welcome to the world of your narrow-minded bigotry, folks.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: Response to ‘The Response’ begins

Riki Miller, Zombie McZee and Britney Miranda.

The responses to “The Response” are under way in Houston. First out of the gate was Friday night’s LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally.  Despite temperatures that had barely come down from the triple digits, Houstonians thronged to Tranquility Park in downtown. Beyond commenting on the temperature, the common theme of most of the speakers was that the American Family Association and Gov. Perry’s rally is not representative of Houston and is not welcomed.

Robert Shipman, president of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, said: “I kinda think Rick Perry chose the wrong city!”

He continued “They are the bigots, we are not … we are Houston.”

“I guess we should take comfort in the fact that, except for some of his staffers, [Gov. Perry] couldn’t find enough homegrown bigotry in the state of Texas to put on the event himself,” said Mike Craig, co-chair of Out & Equal Houston. “He had to bus them in from Tupulo, Miss., and Colorado Springs, Colo.” Craig was referring to American Family Association (based in Tupulo) and Focus on the Family (based in Colorado Springs), both co-sponsors of “The Response.”

State Rep.  Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, provided the closing address. He criticized Gov. Perry for using divisive religious rhetoric for political gain. “Being here today I’m proud that we are fighting back against a narrow, theocratic view of the world that we live in and of our country that says that people are not welcomed — that says that people are bad because of who they are. That is not America,” said Coleman. “That is what is dividing our city, our state and our country.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more coverage of the LGBT community’s response to “The Response.” More photos from the LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally below (click to enlarge):

—  admin

Gay Pride T-shirts finally arrive at local Old Navy stores — but they’re goin’ fast

At last!!! Old Navy stores at Park Lane and the Galleria finally got a shipment of those Pride T-shirts in on Tuesday — a little behind schedule — but they’re selling like hotcakes. In fact by this afternoon they’d run out already, but both stores said they’ll be getting more shirts in on Thursday to satisfy the prideful public of Dallas. The shirts are selling for $13.50 a pop, and one employee advised me to get in early if I wanted one. Ten percent of the proceeds benefit the It Gets Better Project.

Although Dallas seems to be a fan of getting its Pride on with these stylish Old Navy tees, one group isn’t so thrilled: the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.

“Old Navy is promoting a lifestyle that is in complete rebellion against God,” the CADC’s Dr. Gary Cass told OneNewsNow.com. “Rather than just focusing on giving good products to their customers, they want to use their products now to advocate for a very controversial topic, much less a very immoral and very deadly topic. Unfortunately we have to do the hard work of communicating our outrage, our frustration — and then following that up with some kind of practical expression such as taking your business elsewhere.”

—  admin