GetEQUAL calls charges and penalties excessive for gay couple arrested in marriage sit-in

Beau Chandler, left, and Mark Jiminez used their jail mugshots to create this equal rights poster.

GetEQUAL issued a press release Monday in which the group calls the charges excessive for the gay couple that was arrested after appling for a marriage license and refusing to leave the Dallas County Clerk’s Office when it was denied.

Beau Chandler and Mark “Major” Jiminez were charged with class-B misdemeanor criminal trespassing, which carries a maximum $2,000 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail.

“I stand before each and every one of you and tell you that I would spend 181 days in jail as an unjust penalty for trying to marry the man I love, and as soon as I got out I would start the process over again. We will be married,” Jiminez said Thursday night to a crowd gathered at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center that had been waiting for the couple’s release.

Chandler said: “We will continue to demand our marriage licenses until the answer is yes. We owe it to ourselves to do what our hearts tell us is right.”

GetEQUAL Texas state co-coordinator Michael Diviesti said: “The day after we celebrated our country’s freedom, Mark and Beau stood with courage for their freedom to marry, only to be arrested. Shame on our government for putting them through this. Texans are standing up to demand that discrimination be removed from the books. It is up to our government to work for the people. We are outraged that this couple is facing 180 days in jail and more than double the normal fine for demanding their equal right to civil marriage.”

Diviesti said arrests stemming from political sit-ins are usually handled as class-C misdemeanors with a maximum $250 fine.

The couple is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 2 at 8:30 a.m. at the Frank Crowley Courthouse, but they are slated for separate courtrooms. Jiminez said he wonders whether that was done purposely to force the couple to hire separate attorneys, keep them from supporting each other in court and split supporters who want to see the trials — further undermining gay and lesbian families. Both plan to plead not guilty.

Diviesti urged supporters to gather at the Crowley building on Aug. 2 at 8 a.m. to support the couple.

Jiminez and Chandler are scheduled to appear on Lambda Weekly at 7 a.m. Wednesday, on 89.3 KNON-fm.

—  David Taffet

Couple released after marriage sit-in arrest

LGBT protesters gather outside the Lew Sterrett Justice Center on Thursday evening.

Beau Chandler, left, and Mark "Major" Jiminez apply for a marriage license at the clerk's office.

After about four hours in custody, Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler were released from jail after being charged with criminal trespass, a class-B misdemeanor. The couple refused to leave the County Clerk’s office on Thursday when they applied for and were denied their marriage license.

“The arresting officers were very quiet in the police cars,” Jiminez said. “But we told them we weren’t trying to be assholes.”

When they got to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, they were processed and put in holding, where there are three TVs. A story about their arrests had just appeared on Channel 8 when they got there.

The others being held turned to them and said, “Hey! I know you!”

“We had a discussion with a community I never thought I would have this discussion with,” Jiminez said. They talked to the others in the holding cell about marriage equality.

Someone Jiminez described as a “friendly cop” escorted them to the 7th floor.

“Just please don’t kiss or hold hands,” the detention officer told them. As they were being escorted,  other officers asked if they could help. But the “friendly” officer told them, “No, I got this.”

Bail was set at $500 each. The couple withdrew the money from the ATM outside the courtroom inside the jail.

As they left Lew Sterrett, they were figuring out how to get back to their cars, which were parked near the Records Building a few blocks away.

On the corner they saw some protesters.

“We thought Westboro Baptist had come down to protest us,” Jiminez said.

But he said they saw members of the DFW Sisters and other friends and supporters.

“They told us they were prepared to stand there all night until we got out,” he said.

When they got home, they had 400 emails. Jiminez said that by the time he answered 150 of them, there were 200 more.

The couple has a court date at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 2. They both have the same date and time, but will appear in different courtrooms.

A class-B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a maximum $2,000 fine.

Jiminez said they are looking for an attorney and plan to plead not guilty. If convicted, they plan to appeal.

“We took this step and we’re not gonna let it stop,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Dallas County jail maintenance worker alleges anti-gay jokes added to hostile environment

David Womble

One of the three plaintiffs suing Dallas County for $60 million for racial discrimination says anti-gay remarks and jokes were also part of the harassment he suffered.

R.L. Lawson, 41, complained that David Womble, a quality assurance supervisor of facilities management of Dallas County, “engaged in negligent homosexual jokes and remarks toward another employee” in a meeting in October 2010.

Lawson alleges that the comments “further caused a hostile work environment,” according to the lawsuit. At a later meeting, Womble “engaged in unwarranted and demeaning homosexual jokes, ridicule and mockery at the expense of a co-worker of Plaintiff Lawson.”

Womble’s behavior also allegedly included wearing fake gold teeth and impersonating a black person with an exaggerated walk while making racial comments, according to the lawsuit. After Lawson complained about the anti-gay remarks, a black soda can was hanging from a noose in the office.

Womble, who is one of four individual defendants in the lawsuit in addition to the county and the Commissioners Court, later received a pay raise after Lawson complained about the racial and anti-gay comments.

Womble has a past of anti-gay comments. He was reprimanded in 2003 for similar comments and again 2009 for making inappropriate comments to two female employees, according to The Dallas Morning News.

County officials have begun investigating the racial discrimination claims.

—  Anna Waugh

As lesbian Judge Tonya Parker makes national news, Stonewall Democrats shows her some love

Judge Tonya Parker

Judge Tonya Parker

Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker’s comments about not performing marriages until same-sex couples can legally wed in Texas have made national headlines this week, since first being reported here on Instant Tea.

Parker’s speech at Tuesday’s monthly meeting of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas has been featured in The Washington Post, The Huffington PostWFAA’s Thursday newscast and on the front page of today’s Dallas Morning News (subscription only).

Media outlets that picked up the story highlighted Parker’s strong support for the LGBT community, with the only negative comments mixed in with the hundreds of thankful and encouraging comments on the various sites, including Dallas Voice’s original post and our YouTube video.

Parker emailed a statement in response to a Dallas Voice interview request Friday, writing “I faithfully and fully perform all of my duties as the Presiding Judge of the 116th Civil District Court, where it is my honor to serve the citizens of Dallas County and the parties who have matters before the Court.

“Performing marriage ceremonies is not a duty that I have as the Presiding Judge of a civil district court.  It is a right and privilege invested in me under the Family Code.  I choose not to exercise it, as many other Judges do not exercise it.  Because it is not part of our duties, some Judges even charge a fee to perform the ceremonies.

“I do not, and would never, impede any person’s right to get married.  In fact, when people wander into my courtroom, usually while I am presiding over other matters, I direct them to the Judges in the courthouse who do perform marriage ceremonies.   If my deputy is not busy, I will even ask him to escort or help these individuals find another Judge who performs the ceremonies.  I do this because I believe in the right of people to marry and pursue happiness.”

According to Chapter 3 of the Texas Family Code, a county judge is among the judges and religious leaders allowed to perform marriages and “may conduct the marriage ceremony.”

The term “may” is defined in the terminology section of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct as a term that “denotes permissible discretion or, depending on the context, refers to action that is not covered by specific proscriptions.”

Parker said Tuesday that she chooses not to conduct the ceremony and refers couples to other judges with the explanation of why she will not preside over the union.

“I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away,” Parker said.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez issued a statement Thursday saying the group is collectively proud of Parker’s work in turning the 116th Civil District Court into “an efficient model for other courts,” as well as her stance on marriage equality, with the group “responding in total support of Judge Tonya Parker as follows:”

—  Anna Waugh

Gay Dallas judge won’t conduct marriages because they ‘can’t be performed for me’

Judge Tonya Parker

Judge Tonya Parker

Out lesbian Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker touted her refusal to conduct marriage ceremonies in her courtroom on Tuesday night.

“I have the power, of course, to perform marriage ceremonies,” Parker said. “I don’t.”

The mention of her decision to not perform marriage ceremonies came while the 116th Civil District Court judge addressed the audience at the monthly meeting of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, of which Parker is a member. While Parker highlighted her progress in her first year as judge in what had been “the worst district court at the courthouse” with more old pending cases than the other 12 district courts, she also spoke about the importance of having an LGBT person on the bench.

Parker is the first LGBT person elected judge in Dallas County and is believed to be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the state’s history. As such, Parker said she takes into account the importance of her position to make members of the LGBT community feel comfortable and equal in her courtroom by “going out of my way to do things that other people might not do because they are not who I am.”

Using the example of turning young couples away who want the court to marry them quickly because they are often pregnant and desperate, Parker said she refers them to other judges because of the state’s marriage inequality, informing them that that is why she will not marry them.

“I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away,” Parker said. “So I usually will offer them something along the lines of ‘I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.’ And it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it.”

—  Anna Waugh

Wait time for Amelia Court appointments questioned

ASOs strive to see more clients more quickly but, Parkland patients continue to wait months

Nobles1

Raeline Nobles

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Over the past year, the wait time to get an appointment at Parkland hospital’s Amelia Court appears to have gotten longer, although the staffing level appears to be about the same now as a year ago.

During that same time, community-based AIDS agencies in Dallas say they have expanded services and decreased wait times.

For new Parkland patients, the time from first contact to seeing a doctor can be as short as two weeks. But new patients trying to access services at the public clinic recently have reported waits of as long as four months.

Candace White, Parkland media spokeswoman, said that the clinic is taking new patient appointments as early as February and through March 1. She said she confirmed that with Sylvia Moreno, the hospital’s director of HIV services.

White attributed the delay to an increase in the number of patients accessing the clinic’s services due to successful HIV testing efforts throughout Dallas County. Some of the longer wait times quoted over the past few weeks may have been due to the holiday, she said.

However, when a Dallas Voice staff member called Amelia Court on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to make an appointment, he was transferred to voicemail to leave a message. As of deadline time on Thursday, Jan. 12, more than two days later, no one from the clinic had returned the call.

Another caller to Amelia Court was told that those February and March appointments White cited are reserved for established patients only. The next available appointment for first intake for new clients who want access to Amelia Court is April 23, the caller was told.

The Ryan White CARE Act, which funds many of the treatment programs for persons with HIV, specifies patients must receive “access to care within three weeks of presenting,” Dr. Gary Sinclair, former medical director of Amelia Court, said.

While he was at Amelia Court, Sinclair said that he and his staff reduced the waiting time to access medical care to two weeks. He left UT Southwestern and Parkland two years ago and is now an independent consultant involved in covering for physicians for Ryan White programs.

For years, all Parkland primary AIDS care was done at Amelia Court, located on Harry Hines Boulevard, a block from the main hospital. However, to relieve overcrowding at Amelia Court, doctors with experience in treating people with the virus have been seeing patients at three of the hospital’s Community Oriented Primary Care facilities in Dallas.

Parkland began opening the COPCs in 1987 to relieve its main emergency room of treating non-emergency cases.

The clinics were designed to provide convenient and affordable healthcare throughout Dallas County.

Parkland

HIGH RISE CLINIC | Amelia Court’s HIV services will move to the new Parkland Hospital under construction across Harry Hines Boulevard from the old facility. (DavidTaffet/Dallas Voice)

Some of the facilities also have specialties. Two clinics — Bluitt-Flowers Health Center in South Dallas and Southeast Dallas Health Center in Pleasant Grove — were designated as HIV treatment sites.

A third — deHaro-Saldivar Health Center in Oak Cliff — previously treated adolescents and young adults with HIV, but that service has been discontinued.

Parkland’s clinic has been staffed at about the same level for the past several years.

But as HIV has changed to a manageable chronic illness, Sinclair said that there has been “a normalization of care.”

That normalization may include longer waiting times for appointments at the public hospital, something that is common in other specializations.

But while Parkland strives to keep the wait time for primary care down, some local agencies that provide clinical service to people with HIV at low or no cost say they have expanded their service and will see new patients quickly.

“On a very human level, it can be quite terrifying to want and need medical care and not be able to find it,” AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said. “AIDS Arms built its second HIV clinic to help with these exact problems in significant and positive ways.”

The agency opened Trinity Health & Wellness Clinic in Oak Cliff this past fall and continues operating Peabody Health Center in South Dallas. Both offer full primary care for people with HIV.

AIDS Arms accepts Medicare and Medicaid as well as private health insurance. And like the county hospital, medical care is free for low-income people without any coverage and is provided on a sliding-scale for others.

Intake takes about a week to complete, Nobles said. Once a person who has an HIV-positive diagnosis is registered as a client, doctors at Trinity Clinic can see a new patient that week.

“With fast access to medical appointments at our Trinity and Peabody clinics and five licensed providers, we are a partner in the solution to very large and disturbing access to care problems in our community,” Nobles said.

The agency is seeking to expand the services it offers its patients and is currently looking for specialists in ophthalmology, cardiology and renal care to supplement its care.

In addition, AIDS Arms is involved in drug research trials, something Amelia Court no longer does.

Sinclair said he believed that was part of a shift in federal research dollars away from “’How do we treat people?’ to ‘How do we eliminate the epidemic?’”

In addition, AIDS Arms is offering several new services to its patients at its Trinity clinic.

Legal Hospice of Texas will soon begin providing on-site legal assistance for disability, social security and HIV-related discrimination issues. Bryan’s House will be providing free childcare for patients visiting the clinic on Thursday and Fridays beginning next week. And once a week, onsite psychotherapy services will be offered.

Resource Center Dallas offers a variety of specialized medical services at its Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic on Cedar Springs Road. Dental care is the most frequently accessed and something not provided by other agencies or Parkland.

With a recent expansion of facilities at the clinic, RCD Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell said the wait time for an appointment is three weeks or less. He said the clinic is able to treat emergencies even more quickly.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

RCD opens new dental suite

United Way provided funding for construction, staffing of new suite being named in honor of Bret Camp

Camp,Bret7

Bret Camp

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Resource Center Dallas was set to dedicate a complete new suite in its dental clinic on Friday, Dec. 16, and RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox said the new suite is being named in honor of Bret Camp, former RCD associate director in charge of the agency’s health services.

“We wanted to honor Bret’s 16 years with this agency, and his knowledge and service to our community,” Cox said. “We felt naming this dental suite after him was an appropriate way to do that.”

Camp left Resource Center Dallas last summer due to health issues.
The dental clinic is housed within the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic, located on Cedar Springs Road near the intersection with Throckmorton Street.

Cox also noted that the costs of construction for the new dental suite and the cost of staffing it for one year came to $125,000, and was fully funded by United Way of Dallas. Those funds were part of the $225,000 total RCD received from United Way.

“Dental care is one of the highest priority needs” for people with HIV/AIDS who access health care assistance in Dallas County, Cox said, adding that facilities to meet the growing need were lacking.

“With this new dental suite, we can serve more clients and we can get them in for care faster,” Cox said. With the new suite in place, she said, RCD’s dental clinic will be serving about 1,000 clients a year.

As federal funding priorities shift and funding for HIV/AIDS-related services decline, Cox said last month that RCD is among those agencies looking for ways to expand its clinical services beyond just the HIV/AIDS community. But, she added this week, doing so will be a long and complex process.

“When you have a program funded with federal money, you have to keep that segregated, completely separate from your other services,” Cox said. “You can just lump it all together.”

Cox also said that RCD officials are considering whether some services now housed at the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic on Cedar Springs Road will remain at that location after the center moves into planned new facilities at Cedar Springs and Inwood Road. Construction on the new facility, designed by architect James Langford who was trained by I.M. Pei, is set to begin in 2014.

Cox said that a lot of the work of the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic revolves around HIV/AIDS testing and prevention efforts, and that the clinic’s current location in the center of the area traditionally considered Dallas’ LGBT neighborhood is most advantageous to that work.

“Right now, the clinic is located right in the heart of the neighborhood. It is a good location for those services, and that is a historically important site,” Cox said. “We do see some big advantages to continuing to maintain a presence there even after our new facilities are built.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Feedback • 12.02.11

Valdez.Lupe

Lupe Valdez

Valdez vs. Latham for sheriff

“Southern Baptists don’t believe in that.” Don’t believe for a second he won’t use her sexual orientation as a way to turn out religious voters for him if he feels the need.
Tyler, via DallasVoice.com

“I wasn’t raised that way.” What exactly is Latham implying by this statement? What exactly is “that way”? I guess in this part of the world religion trumps science.
Lynn, via DallasVoice.com

They can’t attack her on job performance because she’s doing a great job. After all, she brought the Dallas County jail up to state standards, something the previous sheriff wasn’t able to do.
Matthew, via DallasVoice.com

Texas Dems and gay marriage

While most of the GLBT community is focused on marriage equality and DOMA, personally I think that ENDA — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — is vastly more important to the community. Marriage and the concomitant rights that come with it are great and I’m all for that of course. But having the right to “marry” your partner if you are unemployed with no income means very little. Today, all over America, GLBT people can be fired just for being GLBT and that’s wrong. I wish our community would fight as hard for ENDA as they seem to want to do for marriage. In today’s very competitive economy, a good paying job should be of primary concern to our community, in my humble opinion.
Jay Narey, via DallasVoice.com

Jay, I agree. I just don’t know why we can’t put as much energy behind both. Both are important. Sadly there is not enough votes in congress to pass it. My side (Dems) are not all behind it, either. I know some think the president can just sign something and put it in place, but that’s not how it works. Congress makes laws; the president enforces them. ENDA is vital for everyone, but is going to be just as hard to get through as marriage is. It sucks.
George M., via DallasVoice.com

Freaking cowards. And just hours ago here on the pages of Dallas Voice, we read about that Waxahachie gal who was fired from her job for “working while lesbian.” It just sickens me.
Ray Harwick, via DallasVoice.com
This isn’t strategic; it is cowardly. Principals should rule politics, not fear.
Carrie Stewart, via DallasVoice.com

Ray, you’re not going to get ENDA from Texas. It needs to come from the U.S. government. Texas won’t pass it, even if Dems scream it, and I’m sure you know that.
George M., via DallasVoice.com

ENDA won’t pass here in the near term. But an ENDA resolution might help drive voter turnout. It could also help us to educate Texans. Most people don’t realize that you can be legally fired in Texas for being gay.
Matt, via DallasVoice.com

A few things: Prioritization of rights (ENDA trumps DOMA repeal, blah blah blah) is insulting to anyone who really regards himself or herself as a free and equal person. In other words, “How dare you tell me that certain civil rights are more important than others.” Injustice is injustice is injustice, plain and simple. I represent a growing LGBT population that is weary of this piecemeal, backburner approach to gaining our rights. “My thoughts are that we should be dealing with issues about jobs and education and the economy.”  This is a cop out, and not even a good one.
I will let the words of Harvey Milk sum this one up: “It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions.”
What we are seeing is simply cowardice. The Democrats want our votes. They constantly remind us just how terrible the alternative would be. Well, NEWS FLASH! If they aren’t even willing to SAY they support us, they are helping fuel the fires of bigotry.
Remaining on neutral ground ALWAYS helps the oppressor, NEVER the oppressed.
So Dems, you want my vote? Make good on your commitment to this community or take a hike. I would rather sit out the damn election.
DSC, via DallasVoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Trans man wins first round in divorce battle

Judge declines to void marriage between Robertson, Scott in case that could set precedent, but wife’s lawyer downplays significance

Trans

WINNING ROUND 1 | Attorney Eric Gormly, right, says Judge Lori Chrisman Hockett’s decision to deny a motion to void the marriage between trans man James Allan Scott, left, and his wife Rebecca Louise Robertson is, as far as he knows, “the first time any Texas court has ruled that a transsexual man who marries a biological woman is in a legitimate marriage.” (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

When Rebecca Louise Robertson and James Allan Scott married in Dallas in 1998, Robertson was well aware and fully supportive of Scott’s status as a transgender man, court records indicate.

But when the couple split up after 12 years in 2010, Robertson sought to have their marriage declared void — based on the fact that Scott was born a biological female, and Texas law prohibits same-sex marriage.

Last week, a Dallas County district judge rejected Robertson’s motion for a summary judgment in the case, declining to void the marriage and allowing the matter to proceed as a divorce.

Attorney Eric Gormly, who represents Scott, said if the judge had declared the marriage void, it would have prevented his client, who’s physically disabled, from obtaining a fair division of the couple’s property.

Gormly, who specializes in LGBT law, called the ruling from Judge Lori Chrisman Hockett a significant victory for transgender equality in Texas.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time any Texas court has ruled that a transsexual man who marries a biological woman is in a legitimate marriage,” Gormly said.

Unsettled law

The issue of transgender marriage has made headlines in Texas of late, thanks in large part to the case of Nikki Araguz.

Araguz, a transgender woman, is waging a high-profile fight to receive death benefits from her late husband, Thomas Araguz III, a volunteer firefighter who was killed in the line of duty last year.

In May, a district judge in Wharton County ruled against Nikki Araguz. The judge granted summary judgment to Thomas Araguz’s family, which filed a lawsuit alleging that the couple’s 2008 marriage is void because Nikki Araguz was born a man.

Nikki Araguz has appealed the decision, and LGBT advocates believe Hockett’s ruling in the Dallas case could help the transgender widow’s cause.

In both cases, motions seeking to have the marriages declared void relied heavily on a San Antonio appeals court’s 1999 ruling in Littleton v. Prange, which found that gender is determined at birth and cannot be changed.

However, critics argue that the Littleton decision is unconstitutional and isn’t binding in other parts of Texas.

In response to the Araguz case, a bill was introduced in the Texas Legislature this year to ban transgender marriage. The bill would have removed proof of a sex change from the list of documents that can be used to obtain marriage licenses. Strongly opposed by LGBT advocates, it cleared a Senate committee but never made it to the floor.

Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who recently intervened in two same-sex divorce cases to try to block them, has thus far stayed out of the fray over transgender marriage.

After a transgender woman and a cisgender woman applied for a marriage license in 2010, the El Paso County clerk requested a ruling from Abbott about whether to grant it. But Abbott opted not to weigh in, with his office saying it would instead wait for court rulings in the Araguz case. The couple was later able to marry in San Antonio, where the county clerk went by Littleton v. Prange.

A spokesman for Abbott’s office didn’t return a phone call seeking comment this week about Hockett’s ruling in the Dallas case. But Gormly said he’d welcome the challenge if Abbott chooses to intervene.

“Bring it on,” Gormly said. “Let him give it his best shot. … I’ve got to think that Greg Abbott has more important issues to deal with.”

Attorney Thomas A. Nicol, a divorce specialist who represents Robertson, said he’s already notified the AG’s office about Hockett’s ruling.

“I think certainly the attorney general, if it wants, can certainly jump in and say they have standing because it appears the statute is not being followed,” Nicol said.

He called Hockett’s ruling “disappointing” but downplayed its significance.

Nicol said for his motion to be denied, Gormly needed to show only that one material fact was in dispute. Hockett provided no explanation in her one-page ruling dated Nov. 21, and Nicol said he now expects the judge to fully address the transgender marriage issue at trial.

“It’s hardly groundbreaking,” Nicols said of Hockett’s denial of summary judgment, which cannot be appealed. “It’s a non-event except for these two litigants, so I’m a little bit surprised that press releases were issued at this stage of the game, because nothing’s happened yet.”

From house-husband to activist

This coming weekend, the 57-year-old Scott will move out of a five-bedroom, 3,200-square foot house in Cedar Hill — and into a small rental cottage. Scott is being evicted after the house, which the couple built together in 2001, went into foreclosure.

Scott, who’s disabled from scoliosis, said he was a faithful “house husband” — he did the grocery shopping, took care of the dogs and provided emotional support — while Robertson worked as a radiologist at the Dallas VA Medical Center. “The only thing I didn’t do was cook,” Scott said.

Scott and Gormly allege that in July 2010, Robertson opened a personal bank account and cut him off from the couple’s funds.

“After 12 years of marriage, she basically was trying to shove him overboard without a life jacket and sail off with her new boyfriend,” Gormly said.

After Robertson filed to declare the marriage void in September 2010, Scott filed a counter petition for divorce in February. In June, Robertson filed her motion for summary judgment.

Gormly said the divorce likely would have been final six months ago if it hadn’t been for the transgender marriage issue. Instead, both parties have racked up tens of thousands of dollars worth of legal bills.

Scott said the case is about money.

“She stands to inherit a good deal of money that she doesn’t want me to get my hands on,” he said. “I didn’t marry her for money. I married her because I loved her. I just want what I would have gotten in a regular divorce.”

Scott said he’s known he was transgender since an early age. In high school he cross-dressed and dated girls. He jokes that he kept waiting for a penis to grow and was disappointed when his mother told him he needed to start wearing a shirt after he developed breasts.

In 1998, months before he married Robertson, Scott had his breasts and ovaries removed. At the time the couple had already been together for 10 years.

Scott also obtained a birth certificate from his native Iowa identifying him as male. The only transitional step Scott hasn’t undertaken is a phalloplasty — an expensive, imperfect and dangerous procedure for female-to-male transsexuals.

Scott, who sports a full beard and mustache thanks to hormone therapy, said no one except his doctor’s office knew he was transgender during the time the couple lived together in Cedar Hill. He acknowledges this will change now, but says the case is about more than just him now.

“Most importantly if it keep kids from killing themselves because they’re different — that doesn’t need to be,” Scott said.

“I’m fully aware that after this case comes out in the press, I could be threatened, but at the moment it seems minor compared to what my wife has done to me,” he added. “It’s about equality for everyone.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Cathedral of Hope distributes Thanksgiving baskets

For the 25th year, Cathedral of Hope will offer Thanksgiving baskets to needy Dallas families on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Members of the church are putting together baskets for 400 families that might otherwise go without a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

The baskets will be placed out on the church lawn in Sunday morning between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The green-friendly recyclable bags or containers will be stocked with a complete Thanksgiving meal — a frozen turkey, potatoes, dressing, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes and three other side dishes, dessert and coffee and tea.

Cathedral of Hope members shop for the meals and create the baskets themselves or contribute $35 to have one made. The Thanksgiving Basket project began in 1986 and is part of the Cathedral of Hope’s Holiday Benevolence program that also includes the annual “Christmas Pac-the-Pantry” and “School Uniform” drive in December for needy families. Contributions to the program can be made online at CathedralOfHope.com or may be sent to Cathedral of Hope UCC, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, TX 75235.

According to the 2011 Beyond ABC annual report by Children’s Medical Center released this month:

In Dallas County, an estimated 192,502 children — or 29 percent of the total population under the age of 18 — live in poverty. In the city of Dallas the figures are worse.

Within the city, 37 percent of all children live below the poverty line.

More than 183,000 children have inadequate food and poor nutrition. Almost 18 percent of Dallas County children have no private or government health insurance.

—  David Taffet