Remembering John Lawrence, the man behind Lawrence v. Texas

Lawrence

John Lawrence and Tyrone Gardner

Metro Weekly reports that one-time Houstonian John Geddes Lawrence, the “Lawrence” in Lawrence v. Texas, passed away last month at the age of 68:

“In the facts underlying the Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested under Texas’s Homosexual Conduct Law after police entered Lawrence’s home on Sept. 17, 1998, and saw them “engaging in a sexual act.” The couple challenged the law as unconstitutional”

I was 22 and living in Dallas in 2003 when the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence declaring Texas’ law against “homosexual conduct” unconstitutional. A group of over 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the Resource Center of Dallas as Dennis Coleman, then with Lambda Legal, read excerpts of the decision. I remember the exuberant electricity in the air, the crowd bubbling with joy and the relief of centuries of official oppression finally coming to an end. Similar get-togethers took place across the state, as an entire community breathing a collective sigh of relief.

That relief has turn to frustration over the years. Although the Supreme Court decision rendered Penal Code Section 21.06 unconstitutional, the law remains on the books, and efforts to remove it have met with significant resistance. During a hearing this spring on finally removing the unconstitutional law, Rep. Jose Aliseda, R – Pleasanton, lamented that repeal of the law would entail removing portions of the Health Code requiring that HIV education efforts include information that “homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.”

Before Lawrence several attempts were made to remove the law against “homosexual conduct.” The Texas legislature voted to remove it from the penal code as part of a complete rewrite of the code in 1971, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Preston Smith. In 1973 the Legislature again undertook a rewrite of the code, keeping “homosexual conduct” a crime but making it a class C misdemeanor. In 1981 a U.S. District Court ruled in Baker v. Wade that the law was unconstitutional, but as that case was winding its way through an unusually torturous appeals process the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that a similar law in Georgia was constitutional, making the questions in Baker moot. Similarly, in the 90′s there was hope that Texas v. Morales might finally prevail in defeating the “homosexual conduct” prohibition, but the Texas Supreme Court decided that since, in their opinion, the law was rarely enforced, there was no reason for them to rule in the matter.

Lawrence’s legacy lives on in a scholarship named after him and Garner administered by the Houston GLBT Community Center. The scholarship “recognizes outstanding leadership shown by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Texas high school seniors and college
students by contributing to the cost of their continuing education. Selection is based upon character and need.” Tim Brookover, president of the community center, expressed sorrow at Lawrence’s passing “John was a hero, the community owes a great debt of gratitude to John and Tyrone for taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Brookover. “They could have easily allowed it to slip away, but they decided to stay and fight and that makes them heroes and role models.”

The application deadline for the John Lawrence/Tyrone Gardner Scholarship is March 2, 2012.

—  admin

Turtle Creek Chorale holiday show ‘My Favorite Things’ at Meyerson

Chorale Christmas tradition

The holiday season isn’t complete without the annual Christmas concert by the Turtle Creek Chorale. In My Favorite Things, they pay tribute to The Carpenters Christmas Collection and of course, they add their own special touch.

DEETS: Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. 8 p.m. $16–$65. TurtleCreek.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Teacher accuses TC College of discrimination

Gill says English Department chair at Northeast Campus told her the state and the school ‘do not like homosexuals’

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill
Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

HURST — Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill filed suit Wednesday, Sept. 7, against a professor and a dean at Northeast Campus of Tarrant County College in Hurst, claiming that she was denied the opportunity to apply for a permanent, full- time teaching position there because of the English Department chair’s bias against what he perceived her sexual orientation to be.

Tarrant County College adopted a nondiscrimination policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation on March 9 of this year.

Frank Griffis, director of public relations and marketing for Tarrant County College, said it “would not be appropriate” for school officials to comment on pending litigation. He also said school officials had not yet been served with papers and therefore had not read the complaint.

Gill said she had worked as a full-time temporary English professor for about a year at the Northeast Campus. But when the position was to be made permanent, English Department Chair Eric Devlin refused to allow her to apply for the permanent position.

Gill said when she complained about Devlin to Northeast Campus Humanities Division Dean Antonio R. Howell, he initially seemed to side with her, but after speaking to Devlin, Howell refused to communicate further with her. Gill said although she is a lesbian and has never tried to hide that fact, she had never talked about her orientation with Devlin or anyone else at the school.

Both Devlin and Howell are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit.

Gill is represented in the lawsuit by Lambda Legal South Central Region staff attorney Ken Upton, joined by pro bono counsel Benjamin D. Williams from the law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.

Gill and Upton held a press conference Wednesday to announce that the lawsuit had been filed earlier that morning in U.S. district court in Fort Worth. The press conference was held at a Hurst hotel located just a few blocks from the Tarrant County College campus where Gill had taught.

According to the complaint filed Wednesday, and statements Gill made during the press conference, Gill was first hired on a full time, temporary basis as an English professor on Aug. 21, 2009. A little more than a month later, at the end of October, a female “dual-enrollment” student — a high school student who was also taking college classes — in Gill’s distance learning class cheated by stealing an exam and skipped some classes.

The student’s high school counselor told Gill that the student has a history of disruptive behavior, and when the student dropped the class, Gill was told the situation was closed.

On Nov. 9, however, Devlin called Gill into his office and told her the student had accused Gill of “flirting” with female students. Gill denied the accusations, noting that there was always another teacher in the class at the same time.

That’s when Devlin responded with “a lengthy diatribe about homosexuals and how the Texas public views them,” according to the complaint. Gill said Devlin went on to say that Texas is a conservative state and TCC is a conservative school, and that “Texas and Tarrant County College do not like homosexuals.”

Gill continued to teach at TCC, receiving high praise and compliments from students and staff alike, including from Devlin. Then in May 2010, she and other full-time temporary professors were told by Howell that all seven temporary full- time positions were being made permanent, and that they were being re-designated as adjunct faculty until the permanent positions were filled.

Gill said Howell also encouraged her and the other temporary professors to apply for the permanent jobs. Gill applied for all seven but was the only one of the seven temporary professors not hired for the permanent positions. Gill said that she was, in fact, not even allowed to interview for any of the positions, even though her experience and credentials were as good as or better than those who were hired.

Gill said she met with Howell and told him about Devlin’s anti-gay comments and refusal to allow her to interview for the permanent positions. She said Howell promised her to discuss the situation with Devlin immediately, but that he never got back in touch with her.

She said she also got no response when she tried to discuss the situation with the vice president and president of Tarrant County College.

Gill continued to teach as an adjunct professor at the campus through December 2010, although, she said, Devlin’s attitude toward her became “even more hostile.”

And she said that although she was originally assigned classes for the 2011 spring term, as she was preparing for those classes she discovered she had been removed as the professor. When she inquired about the status of the class, Gill said, she was told that Devlin had specifically instructed that those classes be taken away from her.

Upton said that Devlin and Howell violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to allow Gill to apply for the permanent teaching position. He said Gill’s suit is asking that she be allowed to complete the application process and that she be compensated for the time she has been unemployed.

Gill, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Arlington, said she would love to get a teaching job with TCC, and while she would prefer to work at another campus, she is willing to go back to the Northeast Campus and work again in Devlin’s department.

“I worked hard. I earned it,” Gill said of the permanent position. “I have nothing to be ashamed of. If it [her working in Devlin’s department again] would be awkward for anyone, I think it would be awkward for him [Devlin] because he is the one who was in the wrong.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Perfect match

Bob Nunn and Tom Harrover have been a couple for 4 decades. But it wasn’t until a near tragedy that they realized they were truly meant for each other

LIFE GOES ON | Nunn, right, and Harrover stand before a project commissioned for the convention center hotel. Four years ago, Nunn was near death because of kidney disease. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Bob Nunn agrees with the adage that the longer a couple lives together, the more they begin to look alike. Nunn and his partner Tom Harrover might not look that similar on the outside, but they match in a way that few couples do.

Let’s start with some history.

The two have that classic meet-cute that began on the wrong note. As Nunn tells it, Harrover was the dullest person he’d ever met —the two just didn’t like each other. Then, following a spontaneous invitation to a midnight movie, they ended up hitting it off. That movie led to conversation and then dating.

Forty-two years later, they still watch movies — as Nunn puts it, “I couldn’t get rid of him.”

A job in Houston took Nunn away from Harrover for three months, but old-fashioned letter writing kept the newbie relationship afloat.

“Tom had been writing me letters. He’s a very good writer,” Bob boasts. “He basically proposed to me by letter.”

They committed to each other, moving in and pursuing their careers: Harrover in architecture and Nunn teaching art. For 37 years, they lived in “a fabulous house” in Hollywood Heights. Life was good.

Then their life took a sharp turn.

“When we got together, Tom knew I had a kidney disease,” Nunn says. “Nothing was really a problem until about 30 years after we met — my kidneys began to fail and I had to start dialysis.”

Nunn registered with Baylor for the national organ donor list, but the experience was frustrating:  They received little response or encouragement from the hospital.

“Bob was on a downhill slide and the frustration with Baylor seemed like they were stonewalling us,” Harrover says. “We talked about going to Asia even. It felt like they didn’t want to deal with a senior-age gay couple.”

A LITTLE DAB’LL DO YOU | Bob Nunn is officially retired from teaching art, but continues to paint.

Then Harrover suggested something novel: He could donate his kidney to the organ list, with the idea that Nunn could get a healthy one.  Sort of a kidney exchange.

In desperation, they went back to their physician, who enrolled them in St. Paul Hospital’s then-new program for kidney transplant. The experience was a complete turnaround. Nunn was tested and processed immediately while Harrover prepped for his organ donation to an anonymous recipient.

Kidney transplants require a seven-point match system; a minimum of three matches is necessary for the recipient to be able to accept the organ into the body.

The tests revealed that Harrover’s kidney matched Nunn’s on all seven points.

“We assumed I would donate mine for use elsewhere,” Harrover says. “It never occurred to me that we’d be a match. The odds for that are off the charts.”

“See what happens when you live together for so long?” he chuckles.

Just six months after entering St. Paul’s program in 2007, they were on the operating table. They were the first direct living donor pair in the program. “It was all fairly miraculous,” Nunn understates.

Four years later, both men are doing well. Although officially retired, they both continue to work: Harrover does the occasional contract job while Nunn is currently on commission for an art project at the new convention center hotel. Outside of any official work, each interjects their quips about home, life be it cooking together or working on the lawn.

The obvious question for them might be “What’s the secret?” But they don’t see it just that way. Their relationship boils down to the obvious virtues of trust, respect and compromise.

“Selfishness doesn’t rear its ugly head in this relationship,” Harrover says. “You just have to be willing to accommodate, support and encourage what the other is interested in.”

Nunn agrees. “I would not be doing what I’m doing without his support.”

Nunn says if there is a secret, it’s akin to the dynamic on a playground: Like each other and share. If you don’t share your whole life, there isn’t a relationship, he says. At this point, Harrover says it would be impossible to separate. On paper, they are so intertwined with their house and financials, he jokes they are “Siamese twins.”

They’ve witnessed a lot in their decades together, including something they never expected to come to pass in their lifetimes: Same-sex marriage. Coming from a time when just being gay conflicted with moral codes set by their jobs, they wonder over the progress made in recent years. (They were officially married in Boston in October 2009.)

“I’m confident that it will happen for everyone,” Harrover says. “I’m sorry that it’s moving at a glacial pace, but it has that same inevitability as a glacier. We’ll get there.”

But nothing compares to the bond Harrover and Nunn already have, a shared intimacy few couples could imagine. Same-sex marriage was merely unlikely; what they have experienced is miraculous.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

The Golden Globe Awards: Complete List Of Winners

Glee
As mentioned earlier, there were some big LGBT-related wins at the Golden Globes tonight. While Glee's Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch took home acting awards, the show itself won for best television series – comedy or musical. A complete list of winners, AFTER THE JUMP.

Winners at the 68th annual Golden Globes:

Movies

Best drama: The Social Network

Best comedy/musical: The Kids Are All Right

Actor, drama: Colin Firth, The King's Speech

Actress, drama: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Actor, comedy/musical: Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version

Actress, comedy/musical: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Supporting actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Supporting actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Best director/motion picture: David Fincher, The Social Network

Animated feature film: Toy Story 3

Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Original song: Diane Warren, You Haven't Seen the Last of Me (Burlesque)

Original score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

Foreign-language film: In a Better World (Denmark)

Cecil B. DeMille Award (for lifetime achievement): Robert De Niro

Television

Best drama series: Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Best comedy/musical series: Glee (Fox)

Actor, drama series: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Actress, drama series: Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy (FX)

Actor, comedy/musical series: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Actress, comedy/musical series: Laura Linney, The Big C (Showtime)

Supporting actor in a series, miniseries or TV movie: Chris Colfer, Glee (Fox)

Supporting actress, series, miniseries or TV movie: Jane Lynch, Glee (Fox)

Actor, miniseries or TV movie: Al Pacino, You Don't Know Jack (HBO)

Actress, miniseries or TV movie: Claire Danes, Temple Grandin (HBO)

Miniseries or TV movie: Carlos (Sundance Channel)


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Theresa Cao: Birther, Teabagger, Christianist, Complete Raving Loon

Earlier today, Theresa Cao was arrested in the gallery of the U.S. House for screaming, “Except for Obama! Except for Obama! Help us Jesus!” after the portion of the Constitution stipulating natural-born citizenship for the U.S. presidency was read. Over at Holy Bullies, Alvin McEwen has dug up this video taken of Cao at last year’s Faith2Action May Day event in DC, which called upon God to strike down our evil socialist Kenyan leader. From the clip’s description:

Conspiracy believing self-proclaimed Christian and Tea Party advocate, Theresa Salcedo Cao, proselytizing at the White House, proclaims Barack Obama a puppet of the secretive New World Order. She then addresses the faithful at a Christian Fundamentalist May Day 2010 Prayer Meeting at the Lincoln Memorial. Paul Blair, from Reclaiming America for Christ, holds the microphone while Theresa blows a Shofar. Next up is Janet Porter from Faith2Action, who reportedly believes in Dominion Theology, a theology that believes that society should be governed exclusively by the law of God as codified in the Bible, to the exclusion of secular law. The final moments of the film show people praying over the body of Theresa who collapsed from trance dancing to Christian Rock and Roll. The camera stops abruptly when prayer fails to revive her and the search begins for immediate medical help

Enjoy the crack-a-doodle crazy! That Ms. Cao in the angel wings.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

WorldNetDaily’s Farah in complete meltdown as high-profile conservatives ‘embrace the homos’

I know most of you have heard about the hubbub Ann Coulter has created because of her upcoming appearance at GOProud‘s HOMOCON. It’s unnerved the homobigots at WingNutDaily so badly that they droppedr her as one of the keynotes for WND’s Take Back America hatefest. This e-blast landed in my inbox:

Conservative superstar Ann Coulter today was dropped as a keynote speaker for WND’s “Taking America Back National Conference” next month because of her plan to address an event titled “HOMOCON” sponsored by the homosexual Republican group GOProud that promotes same-sex marriage and military service for open homosexuals.

Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, said the decision was a gut-wrenching one for his team because of their fondness for Coulter as both a person and writer-speaker.

“Ultimately, as a matter of principle, it would not make sense for us to have Ann speak to a conference about ‘taking America back’ when she clearly does not recognize that the ideals to be espoused there simply do not include the radical and very ‘unconservative’ agenda represented by GOProud,” said Farah. “The drift of the conservative movement to a brand of materialistic libertarianism is one of the main reasons we planned this conference from the beginning.”

Asked by Farah why she was speaking to GOProud, Coulter said: “They hired me to give a speech, so I’m giving a speech. I do it all the time.”

Farah then asked: “Do you not understand you are legitimizing a group that is fighting for same-sex marriage and open homosexuality in the military – not to mention the idea that sodomy is just an alternate lifestyle?”

…”Earlier this year, GOProud was permitted to sponsor the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, the biggest event of its kind,” said Farah. “This bad decision resulted in consistently conservative groups dropping sponsorship and withdrawing from participation – much to their credit. GOProud is about infiltration of the conservative movement and dividing it from within with twisted and dangerous ideas way out of the mainstream of American public opinion. Ann Coulter is, I’m afraid, validating this effort for money. I support her speaking to people with whom she disagrees on college campuses. That’s a good idea. I do it, too. But if you see the way GOProud is exploiting its coup in getting Ann Coulter to speak to its HOMOCON event, you begin to understand what a mistake this is for a conservative icon like Coulter.”

My my, he has his panties in a bunch, doesn’t he? That’s just the beginning. Apparently the war over this has cost Farah his friendship with Ann Coulter – and she drop kicked him to boot.

I’m sad that I have lost Ann Coulter as a friend.

But I have no regrets about my action this week in disinviting her to be a keynote speaker at our Taking America Back National Conference in Miami next month. It was the right thing to do under the circumstances – no matter the consequences. I guess you could say she didn’t take it well. The told the Daily Caller I dumped her for publicity.

Farah is doing this for PUBLICITY and publicity alone,” she wrote in an e-mail.

She expressed anger that WND had quoted from an e-mail exchange between the two of us.

“He’s a swine for using my private e-mails politely answering him,” she wrote. “Why would he do such a despicable thing … for PUBLICITY.”

The evidence that I am a “publicity whore,” according to Coulter, is that my “promotion of the birther nonsense (long ago disproved by my newspaper, Human Events, also Sweetness & Light, American Spectator and National Review, etc., etc., etc.) He’s the only allegedly serious conservative pushing the birther thing. For ONE reason: to get his hits on his website.”

In yesterday’s screed, “Today’s ‘conservatives’ and the sin problem,” he feels abandoned by the conservatives not interested in the “save marriage” movement, and he’s enraged that luminaries on the right are “embracing” homosexuals into the mainstream. Should we take out the tiny violin?

“Conservatives” don’t recognize sin when they see it. Nearly the entire “conservative” establishment, such as it is, fears even mentioning this word or acknowledging its existence. And, I’m afraid, without that recognition, this is a movement that is hopelessly lost.

When was the last time you heard a “conservative” leader with a high media profile speak out against what can only be described as the pervasive glorification of the homosexual culture in our schools, media, entertainment industry, Madison Avenue and, of course, government in all of its forms?

There are a few, to be sure – Pat Buchanan and Michael Savage come to mind. Any others?

Meanwhile, the oldest and most prestigious “conservative” weekly in the nation is owned by a corporation run by an activist homosexual. NOTE FROM PAM: who is this person he’s outing?

Ann Coulter is gleeful about speaking to a group called GOProud, which bills itself as a “conservative” Republican homosexual organization that supports same-sex marriage and open homosexual service in the military.

…”Conservative” icon Glenn Beck, in a conversation with Bill O’Reilly, said basically he doesn’t care about the attack on traditional marriage. Asked if the California ruling will harm the country in any way, he responded: “No I don’t. Will the gays come and get us? I believe that Thomas Jefferson said: ‘If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket what difference is it to me?’”

Rush Limbaugh, the iconic leader of American conservatism, hired the noted homosexual singer Elton John to perform at his wedding. He has not aired one of his bitingly satirical “gay community updates” in years.

“Conservatives,” it seems, are on the verge of not only accepting homosexuality’s domination of the culture, but embracing it.

Man, I’m loving it. What will Joe Farah, Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown do?

***

And then there’s this little Facebook post of interest that I came across while surfing for more about HOMOCON. Lookee here — “ex-gay” Exodus International’s Randy Thomas friended GOProud’s Jimmy LaSalvia and seems VERY interested in the goings on…


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright