FEEDBACK: Why I’m supporting Kunkle

Why I’m supporting Kunkle

Thank you for the in-depth expose on the three major mayoral candidates (“Decision in Dallas,” Dallas Voice, April 8).

While there are different opinions regarding the candidates, David Kunkle is my personal choice. I have watched him closely over the last several years and was so impressed with his style of leadership and soft-spoken manner when he was police chief. He went all over this city, listening and getting feedback from not only the GLBT community, but everywhere.

Additionally, he is effective. He may not be the flashiest or most dynamic of the candidates, but he’s a keen thinker and avid reader focused on real world solutions on what works and what doesn’t.

He also appreciates the eclectic aspects of Dallas. That’s an important place to be in my mind, so that we can attract not only Fortune 500 companies but also the small businessman/woman and the budding creative entrepreneurs who want to live in our city.

I don’t know that I necessarily want another CEO as mayor. We hear all the time that government should be run like a business. I think it should not be. Contrary to popular belief today, government is not a business.

Municipal government needs an experienced and competent administrator. In addition to serving as Dallas police chief, David Kunkle also has experience serving as the assistant city manager of Arlington, which will provide him with a skill set from day one that will no doubt serve him well as mayor.

Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings both are pleasant gentlemen and they each bring their own “skill set” to the table and there are good people supporting them. But I’m going to be casting my ballot for David Kunkle.

Jay Narey

—  John Wright

Movie Monday: ‘Secretariat’ in wide release

Son of ‘Seabiscuit:’ ‘Secretariat’ is old-fashioned, formulaic

Contrary to rumors, one of America’s great race horses did not get his name when an ungrammatical executive looked around the office and said, “Where’s my secretary at?” That is, however, how the title was chosen for the Disney movie about that horse. It was only coincidental that the horse, and hence the movie, were named Secretariat.

Secretariat takes place between 1969 and 1973. Had it been made at that time, it would still have seemed old-fashioned. But formulas are repeated because they work. Take a good story, apply the formula, and with the right skills in every department you can make a good movie. Director Randall Wallace brings most of those skills but is too obvious in his reliance on the formula. Secretariat is the son of Seabiscuit — not the horse, but the film: Well-bred, but not in the same league. Again it’s less about the horse than the people around him.

Diane Lane stars as Penny Chenery Tweedy, who inherits guardianship of the horse she calls Big Red, but will race as Secretariat. Penny games Ogden Phipps (James Cromwell), “the richest man in America,” into letting her keep Big Red: She’s done her homework and predicts his genealogy will lead to a winning mix of speed and stamina.

—  Rich Lopez

Making use of a chance to educate

Instead of working to block controversial film, TENT wants to put transgender issues on the front burner at Austin film fest by sponsoring discussion of movie

Recently, Transgender Education Network of Texas has made a very difficult decision. We have been following  the controversy surrounding the film, “Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives.” We have been discussing the issue with Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (AGLIFF) and both organizations believe that there needs to be dialog surrounding the film.

To that end, AGLIFF will bring the film to their well-attended festival in the fall, and TENT will facilitate a discussion afterward. This was not a decision we made lightly and we want to take a moment and clarify our position.

Many trans activists, as well as GLAAD, have been very vocal critics of this film and the “negative portrayal of trans people in it.”

The majority of our board has screened this film and, though many of us don’t think the film the greatest piece of celluloid art out there, we all pretty much agree that on its surface, it doesn’t portray trans folk too negatively.

Quite to the contrary, it shows drag queens (part of the trans community) fighting back against people who want to hurt them (and are very successful … at least physically).

I’d like to lay all of our cards on the table here. Originally, we were looking at this film to use as a fundraiser for TENT. After all, with all the controversy and shouting, it was bound to be a money-maker.

And we felt strongly that we needed to have a conversation around what was really making us angry; as an organization whose mission is to educate folks about the gender diverse, we felt an obligation to facilitate a conversation.

But after our second viewing and subsequent discussion, it became clear to many of us that using this film as a fundraiser would be adding more fuel to an already over-stoked fire.

We also felt that doing nothing was not an option either. You know, if folks didn’t raise a fuss about this film it may not have even made a ripple in our community.

As a matter of fact the controversy, arguments and protests have done more to pique the interest of viewers than any standard marketing that La Luna Entertainment had planned to do.

So, it is out there; we can’t do anything about that. So we feel it is necessary to talk about it.

We also feel that to have an intelligent discussion about the film, it is necessary to actually see it. Many of the protesters have not seen it and don’t plan to for fear of giving the appearance of condoning the film. We hope they change their minds when it comes to Austin.

Let’s take a moment to talk about what the critics are saying.

One of the biggest issues early on was the use of the murders of Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado in the trailers marketing the film.

The film gives a nod to the “blacksploitation” films of the 1960s and is graphically violent, shot in high contrast and is very campy. The protesters (rightly, in my opinion) strongly objected to the use of the two very real and very tragic murders in the marketing of this admittedly violent and campy film.

The filmmaker listened to the critics and quickly removed those quotes. I didn’t see that trailer (it had already been pulled) and when I spoke to Israel Luna, the maker of the film, I said to him that had I seen the original trailer, I would probably be equally as offended.

I asked him if he understood that and he answered, “Yes, and that is why I removed those references.”

Although they have been removed from the trailer, this is still an issue that the critics hold on to as a reason to protest.

The other reason that the protesters and GLAAD would like to see the film banned is because “… it demeans actual transgender women who struggle for acceptance and respect in their day-to-day lives.”

We’re not so sure we agree with this statement.  Whereas drag queens are not indicative of all or even most of the gender diverse community, they are a part of the community and, I for one, am proud to stand side by side with them.

After all, it was the drag queens that hurled the first bottles to start the protest at Stonewall, a protest that launched a movement.
Now drag queens, by definition, are usually caricatures of women. We all know what it means to wear “drag queen” make-up, and few women wear the exaggerated make-up and clothing on the street in their day-to-day lives.

But that is the nature of being a drag queen; they are performers wearing a costume. And guess what?  They exist in real life. I know quite a few and are honored to call them friends.

In my opinion, the drag queens characterized in the film are pretty darn accurate. For the most part, I liked these characters. They were real!  Yes, I said it: Real.

Finally, there are a couple of criticisms that I may agree with. The first is the title.

I don’t condone the use of the “T” word; I don’t use the “T” word, and I advocate that no one use it.

The other criticism that has a bit of credence is the speed in which the film goes from a relatively realistic portrayal of horrendous violence perpetrated against these trans women to a “check your brains at the door” campiness. I have some real problems with that and would have a few suggestions for Mr. Luna for a re-edit if he wants to hear them.

But, all of those things aside, it is time to watch the film and talk about it.

It is for that reason that we are not blocking AGLIFF from bringing it to the film festival. In interest of full disclosure, we were given the opportunity to block it; if TENT said “no,” AGLIFF would not have brought it in.

But we feel strongly that this controversial film can open a dialog that can do a lot of good. So we said, bring it in and let us sponsor the discussion after. We hope to have the filmmaker, the critics, the supporters, and GLAAD all participate in this important discussion.

Lisa Scheps is executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas, based in Austin. The talk-back will be held immediately after the screening of the film on Friday, Sept. 10 at 9:45 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Everyone is welcome to attend.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Contrary to ProtectMarriage’s belief/brief, the world hasn’t been paused for past 28 years

In’s appeal to the 9th Circuit, the Prop 8 proponents cited a particular 9th Circuit opinion from 1982 as providing further backing for their discriminatory cause:

Screen Shot 2010-08-19 At 1.35.49 Pm

Protect Marriage Appeal

And today, writing for Focus on the Family, Prop 8 ally (and Matt Barber cheerleader) Bruce Hausknecht attempts to lend credence to this logic:

Apparently, the 9th Circuit has already decided as a matter of law that there is a “rational basis” for a duly-enacted law that favors heterosexual marriage over homosexual marriage. Here’s the argument straight from the brief to the 9th Circuit:

This Court has likewise rejected claims that the Federal Constitution bars the government from limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. In Adams v. Howerton, 673 F.2d 1036 (9th Cir. 1982), this Court interpreted “spouse” in a federal immigration provision to exclude partners in a purported same-sex marriage, and squarely held that “Congress’s decision to confer spouse status … only upon the parties to heterosexual marriages has a rational basis and therefore comports with the due process clause and its equal protection requirements.” Id. at 1042. This binding decision likewise forecloses Plaintiffs’ claims. (emphasis mine)

Despite 100 pages or so of Judge Walker’s so-called “fact-finding,” and another 30 or so pages containing conclusions of law, Walker never addresses why he isn’t foreclosed by 9th Circuit precedent from concluding that there is no “rational basis” for a law recognizing only one man, one woman marriage. Even if he’s previously addressed the 9th Circuit case during pre-trial proceedings, I’d still expect a reference to it. [SOURCE]

But here’s what neither Protect Marriage nor Hausknecht are telling you: That the world, including the body of findings that led to the Adams decision, has actually changed in the twenty-eight years since the case was decided. And we don’t mean in terms of emotions or public perception or polling, all of which are certainly part of the change as well. But also in terms of the hardcore facts that led to this particular Court of Appeals Decision.

First and foremost: The way immigration law applied to gays. In the relatively short Adams opinion, the three judge panel relied heavily on The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and that which was added to the Act by the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965. The 1965 amendments were outwardly hostile to gays and lesbians, specifically citing “aliens afflicted with…sexual deviation.” And so the 9th Circuit panel, working off what Congress had given them, specifically used that exclusion to speak to intent in terms of dealing with gays and their immigration statuses:

Our conclusion is supported by a further review of the 1965 amendments to the Act. These amendments not only added section 201(b) in its present form, but also amended the mandatory exclusion provisions of section 212(a) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a). Yet, both section 15(b) of the amendments, Pub.L. No. 89-236, § 15(b), 79 Stat. 911, 919 (codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(4)), and the accompanying Senate Report, S.Rep. No. 748, 89th Cong., 1st Sess., reprinted in, [1965] U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News 3328, 3343, clearly express an intent to exclude homosexuals. See Boutilier v. INS, 387 U.S. 118, 121, 87 S.Ct. 1563, 1565, 18 L.Ed.2d 661 (1967). As our duty is to ascertain and apply the intent of Congress, we strive to interpret language in one section of a statute consistently with the language of other sections and with the purposes of the entire statute considered as a whole. Philbrook v. Glodgett, 421 U.S. 707, 713, 95 S.Ct. 1893, 1898, 44 L.Ed.2d 525 (1975). We think it unlikely that Congress intended to give homosexual spouses preferential 1041*1041 admission treatment under section 201(b) of the Act when, in the very same amendments adding that section, it mandated their exclusion. Reading these provisions together, we can only conclude that Congress intended that only partners in heterosexual marriages be considered spouses under section 201(b).

Adams v. Howerton, 673 F. 2d 1036 – Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1982 [Google Scholar]

But what the current Prop 8 backers are not telling you? That in 1990, the U.S. Congress (with heavy lifting from Barney Frank) passed the Immigration Act of 1990, which withdrew “sexual deviation” from the INA so that it could no longer be used as a basis for barring U.S. entry. Sure, we LGBT people of 2010 still have a ways to go in terms of Uniting Our American Families. But this 1990 change was MAJOR in terms of immigration law and gay treatment in general. It’s a near certainty that if this change had passed in 1980 rather than 1990, the 9th Circuit would have looked at congressional intent a little differently.

Then there’s the matter of marriage itself, which is the other component on which the panel specifically focused. In 1982, there was nowhere in the world where folks could marry regardless of sexual orientation, nor was there all that much reasonable expectation that such was on the horizon. But here in 2010, a whopping ten countries offer full marriage equality. Close to twenty more offer civil partnerships or civil unions. Here in America, we have five states and the District of Columbia, as well as several other with C.U’s, D.P’s, and other partnership arrangements that were about as conceivable in ’82 as was the ability for a gay blogger to research all of this without ever leaving his chair.

Yes, marriage bans have also passed in that time. But that is the matter before the court today: The constitutionality of these bans. So when looking back at what led the 9th Circuit of 1982 to cite both non-recognition and “traditional and often prevailing societal mores” as big reasons for denial, one has to assume that the progress on this issue is what should surely hold the most weight. Laws have changed. Access has been granted. Heck, Mary Hart first joined “Entertainment Tonight” in 1982, and this year she announced she’s leaving. Society has changed, my friends!

So while Brice Hausknecht might opine this…

[Walker] must also be hoping for a 9th Circuit 3-judge panel that has “evolved” since the 1982 case. I’m not saying there aren’t certain 9th Circuit judges who would gladly ignore their own case law in a rush to rubber-stamp Walker’s decision; but even the typical left-leaning 9th Circuit judge is usually inclined to follow 9th Circuit precedent.

…the reality is that Walker doesn’t have to hope for mental evolution, even though that hopefully has occurred in the past three decades as well. The fact is that the world has factually evolved, even if still not to where we who value full equality want it to be (especially on subjects like marriage and immigration). So we actually suspect that both Walker and the 9th Circuit would/will be more than willing, able, and inclined to take this Adams matter on, if pressed. But we’re just as confident that the anti-LGBT side “would gladly ignore” whatever inconveniences that a fully fleshed out examination would provide, just as they’ve done with almost every fact pertaining to this case and Judge Walker’s decision.


**MORE: The Protect Marriage brief goes to cite Adams again, saying:

Screen Shot 2010-08-19 At 2.45.54 Pm

A few things on this one: In actuality, the 1982 court panel merely posited reproduction as one possibility for why same-sex marriages are not granted “preferential status,” not the concrete reason why marriage imitations cut the legal mustard:

In effect, Congress has determined that preferential status is not warranted for the spouses of homosexual marriages. Perhaps 1043*1043 this is because homosexual marriages never produce offspring, because they are not recognized in most, if in any, of the states, or because they violate traditional and often prevailing societal mores. In any event, having found that Congress rationally intended to deny preferential status to the spouses of such marriages, we need not further “probe and test the justifications for the legislative decision.” Id. at 799, 97 S.Ct. at 1481.

See that final note about not further probing and testing the justifications, and simply relying on Congress’ rationality? That alone tells us that the court didn’t say that “the never produce offspring” mention is *the* reason why they arrived at their decision!

But beyond that: As fleshed out in the above post, this 28-year-old read of Congress’ intent was built on a body of facts that has concretely, undeniably changed! While eyeglasses of 1982 might be making a fashionable comeback, they should not be the limited lenses through which we examine Adams today.

Good As You

—  John Wright