20 years after the Violence Against Women Act, how far have we come?

 

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation today recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and calling “upon men and women of all ages, communities, organizations and all levels of government to work in collaboration to end violence against women.”

The proclamation comes a day after TMZ.com released video footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-girlfriend/now-wife Janay Palmer out cold in an elevator — video footage that prompted the Ravens to terminate Rice’s and prompted the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. That sounds reasonable, except that the incident back in March and in July NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell only suspended Rice for two games. (Rice was originally charged with felony assault but the charges were dropped when Palmer refused to testify against him.)

Originally, the only video footage made public showed the moments after the elevator doors opened and Rice dragged the unconscious Palmer part of the way out of the elevator and then left her laying in a heap on the floor. The video released this week by TMZ, taken by a camera inside the elevator, shows the brutal punch to the face that knocked her out.

As President Obama said in his proclamation today, it was 20 years ago that “our nation came together to declare our commitment to end violence against women.” The VAWA “created a vital network of services for victims,” expanded the number of shelters and rape crisis centers across the country, and established a national hotline, the proclamation says. The VAWA also “imrpoved our criminal justice system and provided specialized training to law enforcement … . It spurred new state laws and protections and changed the way people think about domestic abuse … .”

But watching that video of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer and considering the NFL’s initial lackluster response, it doesn’t seem like we’ve made much progress toward that goal.

Add in some statistical information, and it’s even more discouraging.

According to UNWomen.org, the website for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, a global review of available data conducted in 2013 (World Health Organization, Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women) shows that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence . But some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women have experience sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.

The UNWomen website goes on to cite The World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health, which says that in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims.

President Obama says that he was “proud to renew our pledge to our mothers and daughters by reauthorizing VAWA and extending its protections” last year. And while the VAWA has “provided hope, safety and a new chance at life for women and children across our nation,” the president acknowledges “we still have more work to do.”

“Too many women continue to live in fear in their own homes, too many victims still know the pain of abuse, and too many families have had to mourn the loss of their loved ones. It has to end — because even one is too many.”

Absolutely. But in the LGBT community we have to take it a step forward and remember that women are not the only victims of domestic violence, and men are not the only abusers.

According to a “fact sheet” published online by the Center for American Progress, 1 out of 4 to 1 out of 3 same-sex relationships has experienced domestic violence. And domestic abuse violence victims in same-sex relationships face threats that their abuser will “out” them at work or to family, some face the threat of having their children taken away, and some are even afraid of doing damage to the LGBT rights movement by admitting that domestic violence happens in our community.

These and other reasons make LGBT domestic violence victims more reluctant to report such violence to police, and leaves them feeling isolated, alone and helpless.

President Obama is right. We’ve got a long way to go. We in the LGBT community have to make sure we are part of the effort against domestic violence, not just in the country as a whole, but in our own community — our own homes — too.

—  Tammye Nash

Man arrested at ilume for domestic violence attack

Tarleton.Roger

Roger Tarleton

Roger Tarleton, 23, was arrested at ilume Monday night for a domestic violence assault.

Tarleton and his boyfriend were arguing over the location of a set of keys and their living arrangement around 8:30 p.m., according to the police report.

During the argument, Tarleton smashed a large mirror over his boyfriend’s head. Dallas Fire and Rescue was dispatched because a shard cut the bridge of his nose and he was bleeding profusely, according to the report, and needed stitches.

The two began a relationship in April, split up and got back together in August.

Tarleton was taken into custody to prevent further domestic violence, according to the police report, and is being held in Lew Sterrett on $1,500 bail.

—  David Taffet

Girls talk: Laurinda D. Brown opens eyes to black lesbian relationships in her play ‘Walk Like a Man’

PASSION PLAY | Tensions rise in ‘Walk Like a Man’ as the play takes on hot topic issues like domestic violence, religion and even DADT but from an African-American lesbian perspective.

An all-female cast going on about romance, life’s dramas and sex isn’t something new — and definitely not new to LGBT audiences. Hello? Sex and the City, thank you very much.

But while SATC is famously about four straight white women who behave like gay men, Laurinda D. Brown saw life a whole lot differently.

With Walk Like a Man, Brown has adapted her 2006 Lambda Literary Award-winning book of short stories for the stage, describing the gamut of lesbian relationships, all from a black female perspective. The production gets a one-day, two-performance run this weekend in Garland.

Touted as steamy and lustful, the book version of Walk Like a Man was both erotic and enlightening. Brown brings the sexy stuff to the stage version as well, but she brings the heavy stuff, too. The play’s slogan — “It’s about life … not lifestyles” — touches on the comedy and tragedy of everyday lesbian life that includes topics such as “runaway youth, love and religious controversies, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, safe sex and affairs in the workplace,” according to the Positive Scribe Productions’ website. The site also mentions that Man is the first off-Broadway play written by a black lesbian. The cast is a variety of women of all ages and sizes, and it addresses bigger picture issues like labels and stereotypes.

The play, along with Brown’s other work, Bois Don’t Cry, was recently selected as part of the D.C. Black Theatre Festival held in June.

Brown may not be Langston Hughes or Tony Kushner — yet — but she’s definitely making her mark in the LGBT universe of playwrights and authors. And she’s capturing the attention of all the right people: Famed African-American author Zane is a fan and the Human Rights Campaign called the show a “must-see.”

Just know that Walk Like A Man is heavy in displaying adult situations, thus the play isn’t open to those underage. Makes sense.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Starvoice • 12.31.10

By Jack FertigMel-Gibson-fourth-rant-audio-released

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Mel Gibson turns 55 on Monday. After riding years of box office success, karma bit the actor/director in the ass hard. His homophobia and anti-semitism are no secret, but charges of domestic violence and racism throughout 2010 hurt his career. He was dropped by his talent agency and his film Edge of Darkness was considered one of the bigger flops of the year. Mega-ouch.

……………………………..

THIS WEEK

Sun squaring Saturn adds the weight of age and responsibility, but Venus enters Sagittarius, leading affections and aesthetics toward new adventures. She gets in the middle of that square offering frivolous escape that can too easily complicate problems at hand, but she also offers creative solutions.

……………………………..

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You’re at the top of your game, but what’s next? The answer to that is not as urgent as it may seem. Relax, indulge in a romantic or sensual retreat and the hard questions will gain perspective.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
The world’s troubles are not necessarily your own. Discussing global and personal worries with friends help balance it out. For answers, look across borders and oceans.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Put your deep, dark imagination to work. Even in a bleak future there are opportunities. Even if the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train, you can ride it out.

ARIES Mar 20-Apr 19
The responsibilities of work and relationships feel oppressive. A romantic adventure is needed. If partnered, plan a getaway. If single, a stern attitude is sexy, but balance it with playful warmth.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
As hard as you’ve been working, you’re entitled to a much-needed release. If you really need to beat someone, there are eager victims. Just keep it safe and consensual.

GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Play only for funsies. Take a chance on love or a passionate facsimile. Incredible sex is no basis for a solid relationship. Take it one day at a time and see what else there is.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
A strong sense of responsibility at home can be a millstone or a motivator. Go with the latter. Once you drag your tush into action, momentum will make the rest of it a lot easier.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Even you have inarticulate moments. Take them as a creative challenge. Playfulness boosts morale and productivity. Too much, not so good. Turn up the jokes and your dazzling smile.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Your best investment of time, energy and money is in your own home and community. Think ahead before taking on responsibilities. Spreading good will at home will help build your standing.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
The weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders. Opportunities can be hard to find, but they’re there. A lighthearted chat with a sister (genetic or otherwise) can help you get perspective.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
Life is tough, but don’t let troubles wear you down. When you find yourself worrying, channel that into constructive thought toward a solution. Stick to basics and remember what’s important.

SAGITTARIUS Nov 22-Dec 20
You may be worrying too much about money. Focus on your personal assets, the kind you’d have even if you were penniless and naked. You almost always fare better than most.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

N.Y. ousts 2 anti-equality Democrats

Hiram Monserrate

David Taffet  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

While Tea Party upsets in New York’s Republican primaries topped that state’s primary election news on Tuesday, the LGBT community scored two victories as well.

Two Democrats that blocked the passage of marriage equality in the New York Senate were turned away by their party.

Most notorious was Hiram Monserrate. After voting in Albany to protect traditional marriage as it’s been known since Biblical times, he had to rush back to Queens for sentencing on a domestic violence charge. He had already been found guilty of assaulting his live-in girlfriend.

Monserrate was thrown out of the Senate after his sentencing but he was trying to make a comeback in this election. New York’s LGBT community had targeted his race as well as that of Pedro Espada.

Espada is a Bronx Democrat who also voted against marriage equality. He lost his race by a 2-to-1 margin.

With these two out of the Senate, marriage equality could come to New York in the next session of their legislature. Currently, New York recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

—  David Taffet

Dallas ASOs win fight to keep client info off Web

DSHS wanted patient notes added to secure online server to help in audits; agencies say risk to confidentiality was too great

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Raeline Nobles
LEADING THE FIGHT | Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms Inc., took the lead in negotiating with DSHS to keep AIDS service organizations from being forced to put confidential client information on an online server.

Local AIDS agencies have prevailed over a Department of State Health Services mandate to post all confidential client notes on an Internet database.

The agencies began battling the mandate after state officials claimed that ARIES, the new database, would be secure but could not provide a list of who would have access to the system to the agencies.

“That hit me like a brick,” said Don Maison, executive director of AIDS Services Dallas.

He said immigration status, incidents of domestic violence and other personal information would all become public. He sent his staff for training on the system but instructed agency employees not to enter any information.

Bret Camp, associate executive director of health and medical services at Nelson Tebedo Clinic, said, “We have information available for review. We will not be entering information in ARIES.”

Dallas County sided with local AIDS service providers. After almost a year of negotiations, the state compromised and will allow agencies to provide the data needed by the state without posting confidential notes on line.

The only objections to using the system came from Dallas.

Raeline Nobles, executive director of AIDS Arms, said all agencies funded by Ryan White Part B money in Texas would be affected.

Houston doesn’t receive this type of funding. Agencies in other parts of the state told Nobles they were too small to fight the new mandate.

That left Dallas organizations to lead the fight to protect personal information from being compromised on line.

“We were successful,” said Nobles, who led the opposition and negotiated with the state on behalf of the county and Dallas AIDS service providers.

“DSHS has come back and decided to negotiate a fair and equitable deal,” she said. “Austin has done the right thing on behalf of clients and agencies.”

The state agency told both Nobles and Maison that it needed all of the client notes to audit the agencies. They said allowing state officials to examine the agencies without traveling to the various locations across the state would save money. The state, however, pays the county to review agency records.

Greg Beets, DSHS public information coordinator for HIV/STD programs, said that the reason behind ARIES is to codify and evaluate HIV services across the state. He said confidentiality was the state’s biggest concern as well.

“The data helps provide a snapshot of what services are being provided and identify unmet service needs,” Beets said.

Beets said that the system met standards developed at a national level and a series of measures would ensure security. Those measures included limited access to the information on a need-to-know basis, security at the building in which the computer was housed and encrypted information.

Those assurances did not satisfy Dallas AIDS agencies. Nobles pointed out that from time to time information is compromised from financial institutions that spent quite a bit of money on their technology.

“If information ever got out to the public, we’d be liable,” Nobles said.

Several years ago, the state required AIDS organizations to invest millions in new computer record keeping systems. She said all of the information is currently kept on a secure computer database within the agency. That computer system is not Internet-based.

Nobles’ agency raised several hundred thousand dollars to satisfy the unfunded mandate to build their database, and, she said, Parkland spent more than $1 million on their system.

To move the information to the new state computer system would be a complete waste of that money the state required her to raise from local donors, Nobles said.

She explained she feared moving the information off the database to a state system would compromise her credibility with her agency’s donors.

“But privacy is the number one issue,” Nobles said. “We can’t build a reliable relationship with clients if they don’t believe it’s confidential.”

Maison was even more adamant.

“This agency would be in court,” Maison said. “It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see what this policy does to make people run from care.”

Maison said people with HIV who use public services give up quite a bit of their privacy, “But to invite the government into your daily life is not acceptable.”

Nobles said she was never arguing about the state’s right to see AIDS Arms’ records. “Any time a government public health funder needs to audit, they can do so,” she said. She said that the information the state needs is statistical information.

But, Nobles added, she couldn’t imagine what use the client notes would have been.

The state will maintain the ARIES system. Nobles said smaller agencies, especially in rural areas that could not afford their own database, might want to use it.

Maison was happy with the outcome.

“I don’t recall being on the same side as the county before,” said Maison, who has headed ASD for more than 20 years.

Camp was also pleased with the outcome. “I’m very pleased Dallas County understood the importance of client confidentiality and backed the service providers,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas