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

Trans professor denied tenure

DENIED | Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, believes she was denied tenure because of school administrators’ bigotry against her identity as a transgender woman.

Despite Rachel Tudor’s research credentials being questioned by the administration, the school will honor her with an award for outstanding scholarship

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, was denied tenure because she is transgender, according to Tudor and her supporters.

The school is located in Durant, Okla., about 20 miles north of Denison. Tudor’s employment there terminates at the end of the spring semester.

Douglas N. McMillan, interim vice president for academic affairs reportedly said that Tudor’s “lifestyle” offends his Baptist beliefs.

Last year, Tudor’s colleagues recommended her for tenure. But, she said, the administration’s response was to contact legal council to find out if they were required to honor the recommendation of the faculty committee.

“The dean refused to discuss it with me and the vice president refused to meet with me,” Tudor said.

But the president was required to reveal his reasons. School policy states that the president must honor faculty recommendations unless there is a “compelling reason” or “exceptional circumstances.”

“One reason [he gave was that] he was unable to verify I was editor of two journals,” she said. “I co-edited it with a senior colleague.”

Tudor said her co-editor told her no one ever contacted him.

“The journals are in our library,” she said. “My name is on the cover.”

Tudor said the school’s president was also dismissive of her service for the Native American symposium held on campus.

“That’s our main academic conference,” she said. “I served on the committee several years. I gave presentations at the conference. He said my service was neither noteworthy nor exceptional.”

She called his statement insulting to the conference.

Tudor said that another reason the school’s president gave for denying her tenure was that the tenure and promotion committee didn’t justify their reasons for the recommendation. However, she said committee members told her that they were required to make an up-or-down vote only and were not allowed to back up their recommendation.

After being denied tenure during their sixth year at the school, faculty members are allowed to reapply during the seventh and final year of their initial contracts.

Tudor said she knows of three faculty members in her building who were granted tenure after initially being denied. She was set to resubmit her portfolio when McMillan issued a memo that he would not allow her to apply this year.

“He said it would be a waste of the faculty’s time — although they were on board,” she said. “And it would enflame tensions between faculty and administration.”

She filed a grievance and the faculty committee voted unanimously to recommend her for tenure.

“Someone who works in the business office who was designated by the president to take the recommendation to the president,” she said decided he was opposed to her tenure and decided not to take the recommendation to the president.

Tudor wondered if that was legal.

The president said she could not reapply because of policy and precedent, but Tudor said she knows of three who successfully reapplied.

The administration began claiming that her scholarship was flawed.

“In the past two years, I’ve have 10 peer-reviewed publications,” she said. “This is a teaching university. The department chair doesn’t have 10.”

The faculty senate passed a resolution supporting her.

“It was an act of courage for them to vote for me,” she said.

When Tudor transitioned four years ago, McMillan questioned whether she could just be summarily dismissed. He was told that would be gender discrimination. She said that gender is included under the Department of Education’s Title IX.

In addition, the faculty senate voted to add gender identity to the school’s nondiscrimination policy, although she is not sure if the administration has recognized that vote.

Oddly, on April 26, the school issued a press release announcing that Tudor would receive an award for outstanding scholarship.

Alan Burton, director of university communications for SOSU, said, “Southeastern Oklahoma State University does not discriminate in its employment practices. The university will not discuss or comment on specific personnel issues.”

Once the semester is over, Tudor said, she plans to fight.

“I’m focused on correcting this injustice,” she said. “If that means staying here in Durant, that’s what I’ll do. I’m committed to seeing justice done here.”

She’s been in touch with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.

An online petition has been started and she is appealing to the executive director of the Regional University System of Oklahoma that oversees Southeastern State.

—  John Wright

WATCH: House hearing on ‘defending marriage’

As we noted earlier, a U.S. House subcommittee held a pointless hearing this morning on “defending marriage.” The Wonk Room reports:

This morning’s “defending marriage” hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution invited anti-LGBT witnesses Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage and Edward Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center to reinforce stigma against gays and lesbians. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-AZ) also used the hearing to attack the White House.

Watch The Wonk Room’s video compilation from the hearing above.

Outside the hearing, activists from GetEQUAL presented Gallagher with the “Anita Bryant Unparalleled Bigotry Award.” Watch below.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Man confesses to murder of gay activist in Uganda; equality under attack in Utah

David Kato

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A man has confessed to the murder of Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato, who was beaten to death with a hammer in his home last week. If you’ll remember, Kato had been outed by an anti-gay newspaper that called for him to be killed, and had received death threats since then. But the government-sanctioned cover-up is well under way: An anonymous police source is telling the media that the suspect killed Kato because he failed to pay him for sex.

2. Speaking of Uganda, the U.S.-based group that’s been linked to “kill gays” legislation in that country, the Fellowship, was also the sponsor of this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., which was attended by President Barack Obama, among others. The LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL protested outside the event.

3. And sticking with this morning’s theme of religious-based bigotry and oppressive regimes, a Utah GOP lawmaker has filed legislation that LGBT advocates say would gut local nondiscrimination ordinances and nullify directives between same-sex partners.

—  John Wright

Is Wyoming the next gay marriage battleground?

State Rep. Cathy Connolly

In the state-by-state march toward marriage equality, four states have been on the radar for possible legalization of same-sex marriage this year. This week, a fifth state became a new possibility.

According to the Billings Gazette, Wyoming State Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, will file two bills. One would legalize same-sex marriage, the other civil unions. Connolly is lesbian.

Wyoming does not have a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage. Bills have been filed to change that, and Connolly’s bills are in response.

Like Iowa, where same-sex marriage became legal a few years ago, Wyoming does have a history of equality. When Wyoming was admitted to the union in 1890, it became the first to allow women to vote and was the first to elect a woman governor. (That was 1924 and Texas elected a woman — “Ma” Ferguson — that year as well).

In Wyoming’s 60-seat lower house, only 10 of those seats are held by Democrats. In the Senate, only four out of 30 are Democrats.

Four other states that may consider marriage equality this year are New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota.

Of those four, Rhode Island and Maryland are the states where it is most likely to pass. Rhode Island’s new governor favors marriage equality and Democrats hold a strong majority in both houses. Their former governor opposed equality although the state already recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

Maryland has been studying equality for more than a year and a bill is progressing.

New York recognizes marriages performed elsewhere and two courts have upheld that recognition. The state’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo, supports equality, as did their former governor, but the state Senate has a one-vote Republican majority that may block passage.

In his inaugural speech, Cuomo said, “We believe in justice for all, then let’s pass marriage equality this year once and for all.”

Minnesota’s new governor campaigned as an LGBT ally, countering his opponent’s staunch anti-gay bigotry. Support of the Republican is what led to an unorganized Target boycott. The new Democrat has said he supports marriage equality and would like to see a bill pass.

—  David Taffet

Gay bullying die-in planned at Texas Capitol on opening day of legislative session

The 82nd Texas Legislature gets under way next Tuesday, and in this Friday’s Voice, we’ll have a full preview of what to expect — and not to expect — on the LGBT front. But for now, we thought we mention that a group called Queer Texas United is planning a die-in Tuesday evening to support anti-bullying legislation. From the Facebook event page:

Let’s get out and show our support for the victims of bullying and tell our legislature to protect students from these cowardly thugs! We will be demonstrating by laying on the steps of the capitol building, each person representing a different LGBT person who has committed suicide as a result of bullying. We must send a clear message to our representatives that state-sanctioned discrimination, bigotry, and harassment is not acceptable!

The die-in will be from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and a planning meeting will be held at 7 p.m. this Thursday at Cheer Up Charlie’s, at 1104 E. 6th St. in Austin.

—  John Wright

Top 10: Bus driver’s plight led to trans protections at DART

No. 5:

View all of the Top 10

Ever since Democrats took over the Dallas County courthouse in 2006, judges here have been routinely granting gender-marker changes — court orders that allow transgender people to obtain driver’s licenses and other forms of ID that match their appearance.

Needless to say, this has been a critical development for the transgender community, but as it turns out, even with Democrats in power, gender-marker changes don’t always go smoothly.

In one controversial case uncovered by Dallas Voice in February, an employer tried to intervene in family court to challenge an employee’s gender-marker change, prompting a Democratic judge who was considered a strong LGBT ally to overturn her decision to grant it.

The employer was Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the judge was Lynn Cherry, and this newspaper’s report about the case prompted an outcry from LGBT advocates.

After all, if DART was willing to intervene in family court to challenge an employee’s gender-marker change, would the agency do the same if it didn’t agree with a divorce settlement or a child custody arrangement?

DART offered no good explanation as to why it had sought to intervene in the case, leaving the LGBT community to believe the decision was fueled by bigotry and transphobia. And LGBT advocates demanded that the agency redeem itself by adding gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy.

The employee in the case, a longtime DART bus driver who asked not to be identified, said the agency’s decision to challenge her gender-marker change was the culmination of years of discrimination and harassment on the part of the agency.

DART had added sexual orientation but not gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy in 1995.

After meetings between representatives from DART and Resource Center Dallas, the proposal to add gender identity appeared to be on a fast track for approval when it unanimously cleared a committee in April.

But suddenly in May, despite the fact that the amendment had been under review for months, the agency’s Board of Directors voted to table it so they could seek more information about the definition of gender identity.

Then, following a 30-minute, possibly illegal closed-door session in mid-June, the board hastily approved new language that effectively gutted the proposal.

The new language said the agency wouldn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, “except to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law.”

Because there are no federal or state protections for LGBT workers, legal experts said the new language would’ve not only undermined the trans protections, but also rescinded DART’s sexual orientation protections from 15 years ago.

The LGBT community was outraged anew and even more galvanized than ever over the issue.

Claude Williams, an LGBT ally on the DART board, accused the agency’s attorneys of “duping” board members into supporting the new language. Incidentally, it was these same attorneys who’d sought to challenge the employee’s gender marker change.

Finally, on June 22, Williams and other allies on the DART board put forth a motion to remove the language that would’ve gutted the proposal, and to approve it as previously written — with both gay and transgender protections in tact.

Faced with immense pressure from the LGBT community, the board unanimously approved the motion — and received a standing ovation from what was the largest LGBT audience to attend a government meeting in North Texas since Fort Worth City Council meetings in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Barney Frank takes ownership of ‘the radical homosexual agenda’

Rep. Barney Frank

Rep. Barney Frank had a number of one-liners in TV appearances last weekend following the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

He said he wondered what would have happened if he or another elected official had suggested exempting gays and lesbians from service.

”We have this important idea,” Frank said on Hardball on MSNBC. “Let’s exempt gay and lesbian people from having to defend the country. You talk about people complaining about special rights.”

“Showering with homosexuals?” he said in an interview with CNS, a conservative media watchdog. “What do you think happens in gyms all over America? What do you think happens in the House of Representatives? Of course people shower with homosexuals. What a silly issue!”

“Remember, under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ by the way, the policy was that you would be showering with homosexuals, you just weren’t supposed to know which was which,” he said.

Speaking after the repeal, Frank said in a press conference that there is a “radical homosexual agenda” — to be protected against violent crimes driven by bigotry, to be able to get married, to be able to get a job and to be able to fight for our country.

And he put those worried about it on notice: “Two down. Two to go.”

But in a more serious assessment on Hardball, he said, “Giving gay and lesbian people the chance to show, in the most challenging thing you can do in America, that we really are just like everybody else, except for our choices about what we do in intimate moments, will do more to help us destroy the myth.”

—  David Taffet

American Family Association Celebrates A Year Of Anti-Gay Religious Bigotry

Joe. My. God.

—  admin