What’s Brewing: Marriage advances in Maryland; DADT training under way; Britney Spears video

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A Maryland Senate panel on Thursday advanced marriage equality legislation that now appears to have enough votes to pass the full chamber — but just barely. If the Senate approves the measure, it is expected to pass the House and be signed by the governor, which would make Maryland the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, in addition to the District of Columbia.

2. Training is under way in all four military service branches to prepare for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The Army, the largest service branch, kicked off DADT repeal training Wednesday and is expected to take the longest to complete it — until mid-August.

3. Another week, another big gay pop music release. Britney Spears’ new video for “Hold It Against Me” is above.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Anti-gay activist calling for boycott of Chili’s; Maryland marriage marathon

1. In response to the gay boycott of Chick-fil-A, anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera is calling for a boycott of Dallas-based Chili’s. LaBarbera, founder of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, cites Chili’s support of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which he accuses of promoting polyamory: “If you want to take a small step to stand up for family and marriage, take your family out to Chick-fil-A — and drive right by when you see a Chili’s,” LaBarbera says.

2. A Maryland Senate committee heard more than seven hours of testimony Tuesday on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. The president of the Senate puts the bill’s chances of passage at 60- 70 percent, and a vote could come next week. Maryland would be the sixth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage.

3.

—  John Wright

Officials in Washington, D.C. declare e-marriage invalid

Reed-Walkup says he and his husband are exploring legal options, will withdraw complaint against DMN over announcement for now

John Wright  |  wright@dallasvoice.com

Mark Reed-Walkup and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday, Nov. 26 from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter stated that thecouple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage.

The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup said Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was taken away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

A viewer’s guide to the Proposition 8 arguments

3-judge panel from 9th Circuit appeals court takes up case challenging voter-approved amendment banning same-sex marriage in California; C-SPAN will televise proceedings

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service lisakeen@me.com

THE NEXT STEP | Kristin Perry, from left, and Sandra Stier, listen as attorney Theodore Olson speaks at a news conference at the Federal Building in San Francisco in July 2009. A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in the case on Monday, Dec. 6. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

A federal appeals panel in San Francisco will hear oral arguments Monday, Dec. 6, in the landmark challenge to Proposition 8 — California’s voter-passed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Broadcast of the district court trial last January was disallowed due to objections by some witnesses who said they feared harassment. But only attorneys will appear before the court Monday, and the 9th Circuit has agreed to allow the proceedings to be broadcast on C-SPAN and in other venues around the country.

A three-judge panel will hear arguments regarding the appeal of a lower court decision that held Proposition 8 violates the federal Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection and due process of law.

The Aug. 4 decision from Judge Vaughn Walker was the first time a federal court had struck down a statewide same-sex marriage ban, and similar bans exist in the constitutions or statutes of 38 other states.

Another six states have interpreted existing law as excluding same-sex couples from marriage licensing. Only five states and the District of Columbia have marriage equality laws.

If the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholds the lower court decision, the ruling would make the bans in California and eight other western states unenforceable. But the decision of the 9th Circuit — whatever it is — will almost certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a decision there could affect bans in all states.

But there are also numerous potential variations to this simple scenario.

The most prominent potential variation at the moment concerns whether the group that has been defending Proposition 8 in court has legal standing to bring its appeal to the 9th Circuit.

It is a dull question compared to the drama of the original three-week trial of witnesses who testified about how Proposition 8 had damaged their lives. But its resolution could have enormous consequences for the case and will consume one of two hours set aside for Monday’s appeal.

Here is some key information most court watchers will need to know and will want to take notice of Monday:

Case name: Perry v. Schwarzenegger is the shorthand name for the case. The full name is Perry v. Schwarzenegger and Hollingsworth et. al.

Time and Place: Monday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m. PDT (noon, CST) at the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in San Francisco.

Where to watch: Nationally, C-SPAN will be broadcasting the proceedings live. Court enthusiasts can also go to the federal courthouse in select cities around the country to watch a live feed — in Boston; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; Pasadena, Calif.; and two other courthouses in San Francisco.

The Parties: Perry is Kristin Perry, one of four plaintiffs who originally filed the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8. Perry seeks to marry her partner of 10 years, Sandra Stiers. They have four children. The other two plaintiffs — also a couple — are Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, who have been together for nine years.

The city of San Francisco was also designated as a plaintiff-intervenor in the district court, meaning the city did not bring the lawsuit but established that it had a governmental interest in the outcome.

Schwarzenegger is, of course, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who represents the California government in the case. Neither Schwarzenegger nor California Attorney General Jerry Brown (now governor-elect) was willing to defend Proposition 8 in the appeal.

So the real appellants in the case are the original “proponents” of the ban, identified as the Yes on 8 campaign (aka ProtectMarriage.com), and include State Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth and others. In addition, the board of supervisors and clerk of Imperial County are seeking the right to serve as appellants as well.

The schedule: The first hour of the two-hour argument will be focused on the issue of whether the Yes on 8 appellants and/or Imperial County have legal standing to appeal the lower court’s decision (see below). There will be a “brief” break, and then the second hour will be focused on the merits of the appeal (see below). The entire proceeding is likely to be concluded by around 12:15 p.m. Pacific Time.

The attorneys: At least six attorneys will be involved in Monday’s argument — three on merits and three on standing.

On merits, famed conservative attorney Ted Olson will argue for the four plaintiffs, and Therese Stewart, the openly gay chief deputy city attorney for San Francisco, will present arguments for the city, which would like to see the ban struck down. Conservative attorney Charles Cooper, who led the defense of Proposition 8 at the district court trial, is expected to argue the merits for proponents.

On standing, it has not yet been announced who will argue the standing issue for plaintiffs, the Yes on 8 Proponents, or Imperial County.

Legal standing issue: Not just anybody can initiate a lawsuit and appeal the decision, but courts err on the side of allowing a party to appeal.

Nevertheless, a party or parties seeking to appeal must still show they are at least vulnerable to an “actual” injury because of the decision below. That injury can include an economic one, but it has to be an injury more “concrete” than the fact that appellants disagree with the lower court decision.

Proponents will argue that the fact they were allowed standing in the U.S. District Court should mean they should naturally have standing on appeal.

The merits: Two provisions of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment are at issue, both encompassed in this language: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Concerning due process, a state cannot deny citizens a fundamental right, including the right to marry, unless it can show a compelling reason to do so. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker said proponents failed to establish “any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry.”

With equal protection, the government may not treat one group of citizens with less favor than others unless it has a reason to do so. It may not treat oppressed minorities with less favor unless it has a compelling reason to do so.

Judge Walker ruled that gays and lesbians are an oppressed minority and that proponents failed to establish evidence of even a simple, rational reason to treat them differently, much less a compelling one.

The Judges: The 9th Circuit on Monday, Nov. 29, announced the three judges that will make up next Monday’s panel — and it’s a dramatic line-up.

The senior-most judge — in age and experience on the federal appeals bench — is Stephen Reinhardt, 79, a Carter nominee who has ruled favorably on gay-related cases before.

The least senior is N. Randy Smith, 69, a native of Utah, an appointee of President George W. Bush, and a graduate of Brigham Young University Law School, an entity of the Mormon Church which played an enormous role in promoting Proposition 8.

In the middle is Judge Michael Hawkins, 65, a Clinton appointee, based in Phoenix, Ariz.

Prop 8 proponents on Wednesday, Dec. 1, filed papers asking Reinhardt to recuse himself because his wife, Ramona Ripston, is executive director of the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, which has been actively involved in trying to invalidate Prop 8.

But Reinhardt on Thursday morning, Dec. 2, issued a statement refusing to step down from the trial, saying there is no legal reason to question his impartiality.

Timetable after argument: There is no deadline by which the three-judge panel must issue its opinion, however, a decision is likely to be forthcoming within a few months. The losing party then will almost certainly appeal that decision to the full 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals,which may or may not agree to hear an appeal.

The losing party at that point would then likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The earliest the Supreme Court would likely get such an appeal would be in the fall of 2011, and the earliest it would rule would be in the late spring of 2012.

If the proponents or Imperial County lose on the question of standing, the 9th Circuit could decide not to make a ruling on the merits. But proponents and/or Imperial County would almost certainly appeal the decision concerning standing to the Supreme Court.

Should the Supreme Court rule that either of those parties has standing, it would then send the question on the merits of the appeal back to the 9th Circuit for a decision.

That eventual decision on the merits from the 9th Circuit could then be appealed to the Supreme Court. Wild guess timetable for a decision from the Supreme Court on merits with this scenario? 2014.

© 2010 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

UPDATE: Gay Dallas couple considers legal action after D.C. court declares Skype wedding invalid

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

A gay Dallas couple’s highly publicized Skype wedding has been declared invalid by a court in Washington, D.C., Instant Tea confirmed Monday afternoon.

Mark Reed-Walkup said he and his partner of 10 years, Dante Walkup, were “extremely disappointed” to receive a letter Friday from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The letter, shown below, states that the couple’s marriage couldn’t be certified or registered because all parties weren’t physically present for the ceremony.

Reed-Walkup said the letter came as a surprise because a supervisor in the clerk’s office told the couple prior to the wedding that nothing in D.C. law would prohibit what is known as an e-marriage. The couple held the ceremony at the W-Dallas Victory hotel, and it was officiated via Skype from the nation’s capital, where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It was extremely disappointing. We were very depressed on Friday,” Reed-Walkup told Instant Tea on Monday. “We felt like we had covered our bases, and all of the media out there was agreeing. No one was saying what we did wasn’t legal, so we felt very confident that we had succeeded, and so it really was a kick in the stomach and it hurt. Having that piece of paper that says you’re legally married really means a lot to a couple, at least it did to us. It made a stronger emotional bond that we didn’t expect. That same emotional bond that we felt strengthened our relationship was take away on Friday.”

Reed-Walkup said he believes someone must have complained about the marriage to D.C. officials after reading media reports about the Skype wedding, which has made international news in recent weeks. But Reed-Walkup said he thinks it’s unfair that the couple wasn’t notified the court was reviewing the matter until they received a copy of the letter.

“I can only speculate that there was somebody out there motivated by homophobia or politics or both that wanted to see this marriage annulled and prevent other couples from pursuing it,” Reed-Walkup said.

“We’re going to be talking to legal counsel to see what our options are,” he added. “If we feel like we have a strong case based on the information that we received when we applied for our license, we’ll pursue it legally. But if it’s not a strong case, we’re not going to waste time and resources. We’ll just take a quick trip to D.C., have her [the officiant] marry us in the airport, and go back to Dallas. We will get eventually married one way or the other through Washington, D.C.”

Reed-Walkup said the couple has also withdrawn a discrimination complaint it filed last week against The Dallas Morning News for refusing to publish its wedding announcement.

“Right now legally we don’t have a legal marriage, so we felt we could no longer pursue the case with The Dallas Morning News until we get this resolved,” he said. “Once we do, we will be back at trying to change the policy with regard to the publication of same-sex weddings.”

—  John Wright

Report: Gay Dallas couple’s Skype wedding declared invalid by District of Columbia

Mark Reed-Walkup, left, and Dante Walkup

We’ve got a message in to Mark Reed-Walkup to try to confirm what we just read at TBD.com, which is reporting that Reed-Walkup’s recent Skype wedding has been declared invalid by the District of Columbia.

If you’ll remember, Reed-Walkup and his longtime partner, Dante Walkup, were married in October in a ceremony that was held in Dallas but officiated via Skype from D.C. Reed-Walkup told us previously that officials in D.C. had found nothing in the law that would prohibit such an e-marriage, but apparently they’ve change their minds. Amanda Hess reports at TBD.com:

On Oct. 10, Mark Reed and Dante Walkup made history by marrying in D.C. (where same-sex marriage is legal) at a ceremony in Texas (where it isn’t). The arrangement took some technological finesse: As Reed and Walkup exchanged vows in a Dallas hotel, D.C. marriage officiant Sheila Alexander-Reid oversaw the ceremony from the District, linking up with the couple online via Skype. The “e-marriage” inspired coverage in the Washington Post, CNN, and Time magazine. Now, it’s caught the attention of the D.C. marriage bureau.

“The D.C. marriage bureau kicked back the certificate we had filed,” Alexander-Reid told me today. Alexander-Reid says that she and the couple both received letters from D.C. Superior Court stating that it had determined the marriage license filed following the Skype ceremony to be invalid.

“The return is invalid because it has come to the attention of the court that the subject contracting parties to the marriage and you, the officiant, did not all personally participate in a marriage ceremony performed within the jurisdictional and territorial limits of the District of Columbia,” the letter reads. Alexander-Reid also received a fresh marriage license from the court. Alexander-Reid could use it to re-officiate a Reed-Walkup ceremony, should they choose to marry again in D.C., this time “with all parties . . . in physical attendance.”

UPDATE: Reed-Walkup reports via text message that he’ll call Instant Tea back as soon as he’s done with a CNN interview.

—  John Wright

Local Briefs • 09.10.10

Young Democrats group holding barbecue to honor first responders

Dallas County Young Democrats and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats are holding a cookout Saturday, Sept. 10, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Kidd Spring Park, 711 W. Canty St. in Dallas, in honor of the country’s first responders.

The second annual event is called “Serving Those Who Serve Us,” and all firefighters, police officers, military personnel and reservists and their

families get free admission. Others are asked to give a $5 donation. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Dallas Fire-Rescue.

For more information, contact Joseph Amyson at communityservice@dallasyoungdemocrats.org.

RCD marking LGBT Center Awareness Day with exhibit

Resource Center Dallas is joining with CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, to mark the second annual LGBT Center Awareness Day on Wednesday, Sept. 15, with a special display of items from the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library from noon to 6 p.m.

The items on special display will include a sign from the 1993 March on Washington signed by Dallas participants; a yard sign from the Proposition 2 election in 2005; a kissing booth from Queer Liberaction; a megaphone from Cheer Dallas; photographs from pioneering Dallas activist William Waybourn and photographs from Phil Johnson of Dallas’ Pride parade in 1984.

The theme of this year’s LGBT Center Awareness Day is “Building Our Community from the Center,” showcasing the integral role that community centers play in the development, unification, and empowerment of all LGBT communities. Events are also taking place at other local centers in celebration of the day.

Terry Stone, CenterLink’s executive director, said that each week, more than 40,000 people visit community centers in 46 states and the District of Columbia, accessing “programs and services that literally build community from the center.”

Cece Cox, executive director of Resosurce Center Dallas, said this community awareness day “is the perfect opportunity for people who are familiar with the center to learn about  what we are doing here, and for people new to the North Texas area this can be their first opportunity to learn about us.”

Last year, the Resource Center Dallas provided services to more than 50,000 people through activities such as GayBingo Dallas, diversity education, the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research library, an information hotline, community health programs, STD testing and other LGBT and HIV/AIDS programs, Cox said.

For more information about LGBT Center Awareness Day, go online to MyCenterLink.org. For more information about Resource Center Dallas, go online to RCDallas.org.

GAIN group for LGBT seniors holds potluck with drawings for prizes

Resource Center Dallas’ GAIN (GLBT+Aging Interest Network) will hold a potluck supper on Thursday, Sept. 16, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St.

GAIN committee members will furnish the meat dishes, including smoked brisket. They will also supply plates, utensils, wine and other beverages. Others who attend are asked to bring their favorite side dishes.

There will be several prize drawings during the event, including a drawing for a $50 gift card to Dish Restaurant.
Although the group is primarily for those 50 and older, everyone is welcome to attend the potluck.

Rainbow Garden Club offers garden tour in North Dallas

The Rainbow Garden Club North Texas will hold its third annual tour of members’ and friends’ gardens on Sunday Oct. 3, from noon to 6 p.m.
Gardens on this year’s tour are in Richardson and Northeast Dallas, and include a working farm, a secret garden, a tropical paradise, a garden for entertaining, a garden that is a tropical retreat and a garden with an Austin vibe.

Ticket are $10 and are available at Brumley Gardens, 10540 Church Road, North Haven Gardens, 7700 Northhaven Road, Redenta’s Garden, 2001 Skillman St., Shambala Body Gallery, 415 N. Bishop Ave. and Under the Sun Garden Center, 7124 Campbell Road.

Resource Center Dallas hires Neal as new director of development

Officials with Resource Center Dallas announced this week that the center has hired Sharon Neal as its new capital campaign director, effective Sept. 13. She will be responsible for planning, implementing, conceptualizing and evaluating the center’s capital campaign for a new building, and her job will include resource development, grant seeking and individual fundraising.

Cece Cox, RCD’s executive director, said Neal “brings a wealth of personal experience and a considerable background in capital campaign projects. The  center is committed to meeting the increasing demand for services and programs in a new home on Cedar Springs Road, just north of Inwood, and Sharon will help us make that dream come true.”

Neal most recently worked at KIPP TRUTH Academy in Dallas, where she served as the school’s director of development and led a $1.5 million dollar capital campaign. She previously served as managing director for the PaCRS group, where her non-profit and corporate clients included the Center for Nonprofit Management, the Verizon Foundation, Education is Freedom, Texans Care for Children, Cornerstone Assistance Network, Capital One and the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

Neal is also the former director of development for the Women’s Museum at Fair Park and held community outreach positions at both 7-Eleven Inc. and TXU Corporation.

She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University and a certificate of corporate citizenship from Boston University’s Carroll School of Management. She is an alumna of Leadership Texas.

Artists Against AIDS auction set for October at Community Arts Center

AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County’s annual Artists Against AIDS Silent Art Auction is set for Oct. 23, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center.

Artwork will be on display from Oct. 1 to Oct. 23.

The event will feature food, entertainment, an open bar with wine and beer and a silent auction including a selection of high-quality fine art from local and regional artists. Tickets for the auction and party are $75.

This year’s honorary co-chairs are state Sen. Wendy Davis, and Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns. Event co-chairs are Cynthia Hodgkins and Sarah Garrett.

Featured artists for the evening are Henrietta Milan and Eric Stevens.

ACLU executive director to speakat Oak Cliff Unitarian

Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, will will speak Sept. 15 on recent decisions by the Texas State Board of Education that some people believe were an abuse of authority by board members who forced their own personal ideologies into Texas public schools’ curricula.

The meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, 3839 W. Kiest Blvd. in Dallas. The event is co-sponsored by the ACLU of Texas and the Unitarian Church of Oak Cliff. Admission is free and open to the public.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas CVB raffling off Super Bowl tickets

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Despite the common stereotype that gay men don’t like football, I am willing to bet there are some out there who would be thrilled to get to go to Super Bowl XLV, not to mention the lesbians who are football fans.

And with the NFL’s championship game coming to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington next February, the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau is giving even those of us who couldn’t normally afford a Super Bowl ticket a chance to see the big game firsthand by raffling off two Super Bowl XLV tickets,valued at $2,500.

The raffle tickets are $50 each and will be available through midnight on Oct. 31. The random drawing will be held Nov. 1, and the winner will get two tickets to the championship game on Feb. 6, with “premium seats,” according to CVB President and CEO Phillip Jones.

You have to be 18 years or older and reside in the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia to be participate in the raffle. But if you meet those requirements, you can buy as many of the $50 raffle tickets as you want to. Credit cards are accepted, and the raffle prize doesn’t include airfare, lodging or other potential expenses of attending the game.

A portion of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, which operates The Bridge homeless shelter.

For more information or to purchase a raffle ticket, go here.

—  admin

‘The same-sex marriage fight is just as much a transgender fight as it is (an LGB) fight’

Phyllis Randolph Frye

Phyllis Randolph Frye, the well-known transgender attorney from Houston whose clients include trans widow Nikki Araguz, sent out an e-mail Sunday slamming national gay-rights groups for ignoring the issue of “‘tranny’ same-sex marriage” in Texas.

Referencing an op-ed that appeared in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle about the Araguz case, Frye notes that in the six weeks since the story broke, few people have gotten behind her client’s legal fight. Nikki Araguz is seeking to receive death benefits for her husband, Thomas Araguz III, a Wharton firefighter who was killed in the line of duty early last month. But Thomas Araguz’s family has sued to deny Nikki Araguz those benefits, arguing that their marriage was void because she was born a man, since Texas’ prohibits same-sex marriage.

“Why is it that the Prop 8, same-sex marriage fight in CA and the DOMA same-sex marriage fight in the Northeast are BOTH so well funded by lesbian and gay groups and lesbian and gay individuals, but the same-sex marriage fight in Texas has been thus far supported ONLY by a small number of mostly transgenders plus three LGBT-allied churches, mostly in Houston, all in Texas?” Frye wrote.

“Where is the same national support given for the L and G same-sex marriage struggles?” she added. “Has it remained nonexistent for over six weeks now because this Texas fight is insignificantly and merely a ‘tranny’ same-sex marriage fight, so who nationally gives a shit? Then are we a National LGBT-inclusive community, but NOT when it comes to financing the ‘tranny’ same-sex marriage fights? From here, it seems to me — still —  that the national L and G groups and the big bucks L and G attitudes haven’t really changed very much. FOLKS, IT IS TIME YOU FIGURED IT OUT THAT THE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE FIGHT IS JUST AS MUCH A TRANSGENDER FIGHT AS IT IS A LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL FIGHT.”

—  John Wright

Shocker: Texas only 20th-most conservative state

Texas is becoming more liberal — or at least less rabidly conservative — according to rankings released Monday by Gallup. The rankings, based on polls conducted from January through June, list Texas as the 20th-most conservative state in the U.S. in 2010. Last year, Texas was the 11th-most conservative state.

This year, 43 percent of Texans identified as conservative, while 35 percent identified as moderate and 18 percent identified as liberal, giving the state a conservative advantage of 25 points. The average across the country is a 20-point conservative advantage (only in the District of Columbia and Rhode Island do liberals outnumber conservatives). At No. 20, Texas is sandwiched between West Virginia and Alaska.

—  John Wright