Arkansas bans anti-discrimination laws; is Texas next?

Huffines.Hutchinson

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, right, allowed legislation prohibiting cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people to pass into law without his signature. Texas Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, left, has introduced a similar bill in the Texas Legislature.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday allowed legislation prohibiting cities and counties in his state from passing statutes and ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination to become law without his signature. The law, SB 202, goes into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends this summer.

Hutchinson said earlier this month that he had “reservations” about the legislation, but not enough to actually veto it. He chose instead to demonstrate those reservations by letting the bill become law without his signature. He did so despite what The Washington Post called mounting pressure from civil rights advocates nationwide.

A press release issued by a coalition of groups including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the ACLU declared, “There is nothing but discriminatory intent here. And no valid public interest can possibly be served by allowing private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristics that might be covered by local ordinances.” Even Cher skewered Hutchinson in a Tweet, accusing him of “hanging [the] LGBT community out the dry.”

But before all you Texans start looking down your noses at those ridiculous rednecks in Arkansas, be warned: The same kind of bill has been in the Texas Legislature this session. Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas.

According to Equality Texas, “SB 343 would restrict the ability of local elected officials to pass or enforce ordinances, rules or regulations that are not identical to state protections, restricting local governments to only protecting the attributes covered under state law: race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin.”

That means that ordinances in Fort Worth and Dallas and Houston and even in Plano that protect LGBT people from discrimination would be, in effect, rendered useless. Of course, it also means that ordinances in Houston, San Antonio and, again, Plano that protect U.S. military veterans from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations would also be effectively overturned. But hey, the vets have already sacrificed for their country one time; surely they’ll be willing to sacrifice their right not to be discriminated against to make sure all us evil LGBTs don’t get any protections. I mean, we are a huge threat to the American way of life, after all.

As I said, Huffines’ bill, if it becomes law, would nullify the amendment adding LGBT protections to the Dallas city charter, an amendment approved last November by 76 percent of Dallas voters. I guess overturning measures overwhelmingly approved by voters — you know, like the amendment to the Texas Constitution banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage, approved by 76 percent of Texas voters in 2005 — is ok as long as you are only overturning things that Republicans don’t like.

—  Tammye Nash

Kathy Griffin on Cher emojis, gay ‘letters’ and already trying to get fired from ‘Fashion Police’

KathyG3Kathy Griffin isn’t kidding when she says, “If I can get serious for one second…” Putting aside her usual biting assault against all things celebrity, the comedian gets candid about her dear friend and idol Joan Rivers in our latest interview: Griffin’s frequent death-related conversations with the late comedy legend, “literally” getting Joan’s permission to succeed her on Fashion Police, and how Joan taught Kathy “not to give a fuck.” — Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: Hi Kathy, how are ya?  Kathy Griffin: Umm, this isn’t gonna go out to any, uh, gay people, right, Chris? Because, you know, you give those people an inch, they’ll take a mile.

Are you talking about penis size?  I’m talking about, when are we gonna end it with the letters and the numbers, Chris! LGBTQIA-2-3-4-5! Dammit! I’ve got a GLAAD Vanguard Award and an HRC Award and I still can’t keep up.

I’m gay myself and I can’t keep up. Which letter or number are you?

Just the G for now.  Look, Chris, you’ve gotta up your game. You’ve gotta stick in at least — can’t you be a Q? How hard is it to be a “questioning”?

For you, Kathy, I could be a Q. And I could be a number.  OK, good. I just wanted to get a little something out of you, because, you know, I gotta be up on the times with the LGBTQIA2s, and from what I understand you people are adding letters on a daily basis.

It’s really confusing you straight people, I know. Keep it simple for the breeders! We are simple people, dammit!

So, Kathy, congratulations on Fashion PoliceThank you! I am so-o-o-o excited! I mean, obviously I have the biggest shoes in the world to fill. But the fact that Joan and I were such good pals — and, in fact, discussed the show many, many times — it’s just, for me, if I can get serious for one second, actually meaningful. And I know it’s a silly show — we’re gonna make fun of silly celebrities and pictures — but Joan was such a good pal to me, but also an unrecognized pioneer in many ways.

I have to say, I really am getting a lot of gratification out of the fact that I believe posthumously she’s finally getting the respect that she so earned and so deserved, and that’s kind of a mission that I’ve assigned to myself. No one has assigned it to me, but it’s just important to me that her legacy is protected and honored, because it’s a legit legacy.

I mean, she was wild and outrageous, and I get it — with the sequin jackets and the feather boas and the saying crazy things to TMZ — but just as a female comedian, I mean, talk about a feminist, talk about a groundbreaker. I would never have this career without her, and I don’t mean just this job (on Fashion Police) — like, duh — but I mean everything from the beginning: what she did for women in comedy in such a male-dominated field, and for the LGBT community, and being down with the gays long before Stonewall, before it was cool. Anyway, it’s such an honor for me to sit in that chair.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: ‘Cher’-ing some holiday cheer

Cher Upon a Midnight ClearWe gay people love our divas, and Cher is one of the diva-est. So it seems only fitting that there should be a book in which Cher saves Christmas.  “If 8-year-old Luca can’t convince his parents to give him the white ice skates he has his heart set on, Christmas is going to be ruined. Who does a child turn to when he can’t even county on Santa Claus?” Why, Cher, of course. Cher Upon A Midnight Clear is the “Christmas fable for children of all ages and the homofriendly/genderqueer holiday story your modern family has been waiting for.”

Cher Upon A Midnight Clear, by Matteo B. Bianchi. $8. Available online at FourCatsPress.com/new-releases.

—  Tammye Nash

No Tie giving away Cher concert tickets

CherDo you believe in life after an Oscar, a variety show, an ex-husband dying on a ski slope, a transgender child and gazillions of gay fanboys? Then you believe in Cher, who’ll be playing in Dallas on March 26, the third stop on her Dressed to Kill Tour. The gays love their uber-diva more than Judy herself, and the No Tie Dinner and Dessert party knows its audience. So, before the big fundraiser for AIDS Services of Dallas on April 12, the group is giving away tickets so any gypsies, tramps and thieves can see Cher in concert. Just pre-register for the No Tie Dinner now through March 19 at NoTieDinner.org, and you’ll be entered in the drawing. Don’t be late, though, because you can’t turn back time.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

CD REVIEW: Cher, ‘Closer to the Truth’

CHERTo find the truth on Cher’s first album of new material in 12 years, look beyond that over-polished, Britney-circa-Femme Fatale-era cover art on Closer to the Truth, wherein our leading diva confuses an album shoot for a JCPenney underwear catalog. The truth, it turns out, isn’t immediately apparent; it exists not in a 67-year-old woman trying to be a pinup girl, but in the frankness of Cher’s always-authentic self, when she preaches feminism (“Woman’s World”), tells a prospective lover to “Take It Like a Man” and, at her most honest, warns of her lethal wig-wearing, sequin-shimmering style (“Dressed to Kill”).

Picking up where 2001’s Living Proof left off — when Cher, impossible as it sounds, got even gayer — Closer to the Truth (her 26th LP) keeps the queers at her feet and on their knees; all three of the aforementioned songs pulse and bounce and bang like the icon never left the dance floor. And that’s only somewhat problematic, since some of these aren’t quite as ageless as the diva herself. “Woman’s World,” the first single, sounds very turn-of-the-millennium. One of two Pink-scribed contributions, “I Walk Alone,” exercises a country march that both befits early-era Cher and shakes up the sameness of the more vanilla-produced dance jams. Then she gets back to ballads, making magic out of “Sirens,” a glorious slow tempo that proves the timelessness of her voice, and breaking your heart just a little on her cover of Miley Cyrus’ “I Hope You Find It.” The truth is, Cher doesn’t need to turn back time. She’s fine right where she is.

— Chris Azzopardi

 Three-and-a-half stars.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cher reunites with ‘Burlesque’ co-star on ‘The Voice’ … sort of

burlesque photocall 091210Cher and Christina Aguilera, who starred together in the camp classic film Burlesque in 2010, will be reunited again this fall … sort of.

Cher has been added to the cast of The Voice — not as a “coach” (the foursome that sit in revolving chairs and pick the singers they want to mentor) — but as an “adviser,” a behind-the-scenes expert who counsels the coach on how to bring out the best in each contestant. Aguilera, of course, is one of the coaches.

Only Cher won’t be on Aguilera’s team — she’ll be the adviser to Blake Shelton. Christina’s adviser will be Ed Sheeran.

The Voice returns Sept. 23.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Joan Rivers at the Winspear

AWJ Joan HLR

“It’s great to put a face to a voice,” Joan Rivers told me when I met her after her show last night at the Winspear (I’m pictured, from left, with her her and Voice contributor Howard Lewis Russell). “Phone interviews are hard, but you were a good one.”

Even if she hadn’t paid me a compliment, it would have been easy to say nice things about Joan’s 65-minute act, where she stays in constant motion and talks even faster. (After the set was over, Howard and I were exhausted from laughing; only then did we realize Joan never so much as took a sip of water the entire time.) At 79, she’s an unstoppable force, going to far as to do a sight gag involving climbing on top of a piano — what septuagenarians do you know that still do physical comedy?!?!

But that’s Rivers, who famously never slows down — not in her career, and not onstage. The jokes were more rapid-fire than a sub-machine gun: Some induced groans from audience members uncomfortable with jokes about pedophilia (read: Michael Jackson) and how Chaz Bono needed liposuction more than a new penis. But, as Joan says, if you don’t get some walkouts, you’re not doing your job right.

Of course, she embraced “my gays” — her shout-out to them (“Where are you?”) resulted in a roar and nearly the entire front two rows standing up and hollering. “I love my gays — my one great disappointment is my grandson is not gay,” she joked. “Who else is going to say to me, ‘Really, you knew Judy Garland?!’” Still, she said, gays don’t like two kinds of jokes: Those that poke fun at Princess Di and at Barbra Streisand. She did jokes about both.

And she was right: The gays were out in force. The line at the men’s room before the show looped around the lobby. “Why is the line here longer than at the ladies’ room?” wondered one man aloud. “Because,” I said, “Joan Rivers has turned the Winspear into Dallas’ largest floating gay bar.” “Oh, right,” he agreed.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chaz Bono to receive Elizabeth Birch Equality Award
 at Black Tie Dinner


Chaz Bono

Chaz Bono will receive this year’s Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, co-chairs of the 2012 Black Tie Dinner announced today.

“While Chaz has found fulfillment in his work as a national activist, one of his greatest values in the GLBT community lies in reaching out and raising awareness on a grassroots level among young minds,” said Black Tie Dinner Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis. “Via his high national profile, Chaz continues to create visibility, increase awareness and impact change for transgender issues.”

Chaz Bono is an LGBT rights advocate, author and speaker. Most recently, Chaz received the GLAAD Media Award and was honored for his OWN documentary, Becoming Chaz, which chronicled the struggles of his gender reassignment journey. He also received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is given by GLAAD to an LGBT entertainer for promoting equality. Chaz embarked on uncharted territory last fall when he appeared on Dancing With The Stars.

Born Chastity, to Sonny and Cher Bono, Chaz came out as a lesbian to his parents at 18 in 1987. He did not come out publicly until April 1995 in an interview with The Advocate, and spoke about it publicly on the air for the first time ever on Lambda Weekly when he was in Dallas for National Coming Out Day

Chaz has contributed as a writer-at-large to The Advocate and became spokesperson for the HRC, promoting National Coming Out Day. Chaz also served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

The Elizabeth Birch Equality Award honors national leaders, and is given in recognition of the inspirational leadership of former Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. This award is given to an individual, organization or company that has made a significant contribution of national scope to the LGBT community.

Birch received the first award and last year decorated veteran Eric Alva, the first servicemember injured in the Iraq War received the honor. Other recipients have included Showtime Networks/Robert Greenblatt, Alan Cumming, Sharon Stone, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Judy Shepard and American Airlines.

—  David Taffet

Cher is the latest gay icon to get a comic book

I’m not sure who’s running things over at Bluewater Productions comics, but they know their gay audiences. Following up on previous celebrity bio-comics like Lady Gaga, Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres, the publisher announced today that Cher will get the comic treatment this December. Her story will be the latest issue of their series Female Force. The 32-page comic will feature art by Zach Bassett and Warren Montgomery. The cover is by DC Comics Joe Philips. From BlueWater Productions:

Writer Marc Shapiro said Cher’s life and career “reads like a comic book.” “The clothes, the times, the attitudes of the decades she’s lived through. The different styles of music she’s been involved in. So much of what Cher has experienced is so flamboyant, over the top and just plain out there,” said Shapiro. “She has been very much the real life equivalent of a superhero, and writing about Cher, to a large degree, has been just about letting my imagination go.”

With no specific date mentioned, Bluewater says to expect the comic in the month of December at comic book shops, Barnes & Noble bookstores and Amazon.

—  Rich Lopez

Chaz Bono attacked for inclusion on ‘DWTS’

Earlier this week I reported that Chaz Bono, the transgender child of Cher and Sonny Bono, was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. What a great bold move for ABC, I thought. Well, apparently a lot of people think differently.

TheWrap.com is reporting that ABC’s message board lit up with hostile, hateful comments about Chaz. “How low can this show sink” was one comment. Others suggest that is was “sickening” and simply a media conspiracy to “flaunt” gay culture.

Maybe we need to stick up for our community. If you’re so inclined, you can go here to the DWTS message board and post your own comment. Don’t let the haters win.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones