What’s Shakin’ – Election Day

1. It’s election day in Houston! The Mayor, Comptroller, City Council and three Houston Independent School Board Trustee seats are up for grabs. Decisions made today will affect policy-making decisions on LGBT issues for the next two years so visit HarrisVotes.org and find out where to go to cast your ballot. Polls open at 7 am on Tuesday and close at 7 pm sharp.

2. After you vote, join Out and Equal Houston for their Lunch and Learn series today at 11:15 am the Crowne Plaza Hotel (downtown). Susan Parker, Executive Recruiter and Diversity Consultant , will deliver a presentation how professionals can Brand themselves for success. Out and Equal Houston exists to encourage and assist Houston-area businesses to foster and maintain GLBT-inclusive work environments. More information on the Lunch and Learn series is available at www.outandequal.org/houston.

3. The New York Times reports that 48% of students in a recent study reported being harassed. Not surprisingly, the study found that, for boys, accusations of being Gay hit hardest.

“In the survey, students were asked to identify what had the worst effect on them. For boys, it was being called gay — ‘Everyone was saying I was gay, and I felt the need to have to run away and hide,’ a ninth-grader said. For girls, the leading problem was having someone make ‘unwelcome sexual comments, jokes or gestures to or about you.’”

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What’s Shakin’ – Wings of Desire at MFAH, IRS to allow deductions for gender transition

Wings of Desire1. If you’re a fan of German films that are partially in French, the film oeuvre of Peter Faulk and sexy trapeze artists with existential angst then “Wings of Desire” is your kind of flick.  The 1987 Wim Wenders masterpiece tells the story of an Angel (Bruno Ganz) who, after watching humanity since the dawn of time, desires to become human so he can be with the woman he loves. “Wings of Desire” screens tonight at 7 pm at the Museum of Fine Art Houston (1001 Bissonnet).

2. Transgender Americans who undergo hormone therapy or receive gender realignment surgery may now be able to deduct the costs of those treatments on their taxes. According to GLAD, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the IRS has issued an “action on decision” statement saying that the agency will acquiesce to an appeals court ruling allowing the deductions. GLAD cautions that medical deductions can still be audited and encourages anyone planning to deduct cost of transition medical expenses to rigorously document the medical necessity of treatments and consult with a tax professional when preparing return

3. Election day is tomorrow. If you’re one of the 58,345 people in Harris County who voted early, then good for you.  If not, you’ll want to visit HarrisVotes.org and find out where to go to cast your ballot.  Polls open at 7 am on Tuesday and close at 7 pm sharp.

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HISD trustee distributes anti-gay flier

Rodriquez Flier (excerpt)

Excerpt from the Rodriquez flier attacking Fonseco for his advocacy for LGBT people and his endorsement by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus (click to view full flier)

Houston Independent School District Trustee Manuel Rodriquez Jr. is under fire for an anti-gay flyer attacking his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca. Both seek the HISD District III seat held by Rodriquez. Rodriquez’s flyer attacks Fonseca for his history of advocating for LGBT people, and his endorsement by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. The flyer also suggests that Fonseca being 52 and unmarried is a reason that Houstonians should not trust him to make decisions affecting children, and points out that he has a “male partner.”

The GLBT Political Caucus was quick to denounce the flyer, issuing a statement on Saturday. “Manuel Rodriguez is assuming the voters of District III share the same bigoted, hateful views he holds,” said Caucus president Noel Freeman. “Houstonians have proven time and time again that such views are not welcome in our City, and have consistently rejected candidates who espouse such hateful views. We urge the voters of District III to reject Manuel Rodriguez on election day.”

Other HISD Trustees have joined in the chorus of people speaking out against the mailer. “I denounce the reprehensible, mean-spirited, bigoted mailer that was sent out in the HISD, District III race,” Trustee Juliet Katherine Stipeche said via her Facebook wall. “I ask my colleagues to maintain and uphold HISD’s total non-discrimination policy and treat every person, including other candidates, with dignity and respect. Let us embrace diversity and equality and treat every person as we would like ourselves to be treated ” Stipeche is seeking re-election to her district VIII seat.

HISD District I member Anna Eastman echoed Stipeche’s comments. “My fifteen year old son could not comprehend why someone would think that distinction would change a vote for school board and would be used as such by a candidate.”

The GLBT caucus is urging people to contact the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle to encourage them to rescind their endorsement of Rodriquez in light of his campaign tactics.

HISD elections are part of the general elections taking place this Tuesday, Nov 8. Visit HarrisVotes.org to find your voting location and view a sample ballot.

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What’s Shakin’ – Stone Soup at F Bar, Washtonians support marriage equality

Stone Soup1. For people living with AIDS proper nutrition is more than just healthy living, it’s a vital part of the regimen that keeps them alive. Unfortunately the struggling economy and cuts to government HIV/AIDS nutrition programs mean that, for some, eating right, or just eating, is a challenge.  That’s where the AIDS Foundation Houston Stone Soup Food Assistance Program steps in.  Kelly McCann, CEO of of AFH, says that the program has recently seen a 40% increase in request for assistance and needs an additional $25,000 a month to meet demand. F Bar (202 Tuam) is doing its part to help out tonight, collecting monetary and food donations from the community. Donors will receive a VIP invitation to an appreaciation party on Nov 22, and be entered in a raffle to win fabulous prizes.
2. Washington may soon become the seventh state to have full marriage equality, if a recent poll by the University of Washington, Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexualityis accurate.  The poll asked 938 registered voters in the evergreen state if they would support a same-sex marriage law were it to appear on the 2012 ballot: 47% responded that yes, they would strongly support it, only 32% said they would strongly oppose.
3. Voter turnout in Harris County is slowly catching up with the last municipal election cycle in 2009, but continues to lag.  So far 28,679 people have cast their ballots, 81% of the 34,485 who had voted at this point in the process the last go around.  Early voting continues through November 3.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

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CORRECTION: All major candidates for Dallas mayor vied for LGBT vote in 2002

In my cover story for this week’s paper, I made a minor mistake. Actually it was fairly major. The opening paragraph of the story, as originally written, stated that 2011 marks the first time in history that all major candidates for Dallas mayor have actively courted the LGBT vote.

As former DV staff writer David Webb pointed out in the comments to the story, that’s not true. In 2002, Laura Miller, Tom Dunning and Domingo Garcia — the three major candidates for mayor — all courted the LGBT vote.

From The Dallas Mornings News on Jan. 15, 2002:

Dallas gays and lesbians, who used to hope that they could just find a candidate who wouldn’t be hostile to their interests, find themselves for the first time being wooed from all directions in what boils down to a three-way citywide race – and disagreeing about whom to support.

“It’s the first time I haven’t had to go vote for the lesser of two evils,” said Deb Elder, a Laura Miller supporter and political organizer. “Nothing has piqued my passion like this mayoral vote.”

Put another way, with major candidates Ms. Miller, Tom Dunning, and Domingo Garcia all touting their support for including gays in a nondiscrimination ordinance, a sector of voters that was shunned not long ago can’t lose this time around.

“It’s historic. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know it would be this soon,” said Michael Milliken, one of the city’s first publicly identified gay appointees. “The gay community is in a unique position this year.”

I had based my report on statements by openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley, who called the 2011 mayoral election “a watershed moment for the community” and “unprecedented.”

While that may be true in some other respects, this isn’t the first time all major mayoral candidates have sought the LGBT vote, and I apologize for the error.

—  John Wright

On the Ground in New York on Election Day

The following post comes from  HRC Field Fellow Errin E. Doyle. Errin is just one of 30 HRC staff that are on the ground fighting in elections accross the country, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the today’s elections:

It’s Election Day, and western New York is full of buzz about the Democratic candidate for the 58th senate district, Tim Kennedy. Tim is offering Buffalo constituents a new face in Albany; ready to change the way business is done and be the voice of communities that have been forgotten. Being distinct from his opposition, Tim is the only candidate in this district who supports marriage equality. Tim’s candidacy is a grassroots effort, powered by community volunteers. HRC members have played a key role in the campaign, organizing voter contact and coordinating volunteers. Recent recruits include members of the University at Buffalo’s College Democrats, who joined us last night eager to help reach voters. As a student at Buffalo State College, I am always excited to see other students getting involved in government. Working alongside other young activists is a great reminder that we can all make a difference by being informed and by getting involved.

All of the campaign’s work throughout the year is coming to fruition. The field office is bustling with Tim and his supporters, making thousands of phone calls and knocking on hundreds of doors. We are reminding the 58th district to vote tomorrow for a candidate that will follow through on their word to support equal rights for all of New York’s citizens.

Keep checking on HRC Back Story all evening long, and into tomorrow, as we bring you result from around the country on elections that matter to LGBT people, our families and our allies.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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NOM Election Report Card: Anti-Gay Investment Continues to Deliver Hate with Mixed Results

Although voters were resoundingly focused on the economy this midterm election – and ranked social issues, to include same-sex marriage dead last– the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a Washington D.C.-based anti-gay, fringe organization, put an estimated million into the 2009-10 election cycle to influence the outcome in dozens of federal and state races, according to campaign finance filings, NOM and press reports.

While NOM made significant investments this cycle, its electoral win/loss record is decidedly mixed. In fact, NOM lost more races than it won. NOM endorsed at least 29 candidates. As of Wednesday afternoon, NOM had lost 19 of these races, won eight, and the remaining two (the Minnesota governor’s race and a New Hampshire statehouse candidate) were undecided. With the exception of a judicial election they hijacked in Iowa, NOM lost its most expensive and high-profile gambits in California and New Hampshire and all of its races in Maine and the District of Columbia. And it fought campaign finance laws all along the way.

Read the full analysis of NOM’s 2010 activities.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Election Losses of Iowa Justices Hurt Marriage Equality Efforts Nationwide

Last year the seven justices of the Iowa Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a state law that denied same sex marriage. Yesterday, three of those justices were voted out of office. The other four weren’t up for reelection.

Why the Iowa Justices Lost

Their election losses were the culmination of a campaign by out-of-state special interest groups to punish the justices for effectively making gay marriage legal in the state. Grant Shulte of the Des Moines Register reported today:

The ouster effort grew out of the April 2009 gay marriage ruling that stunned the nation, outraged social conservatives and turned Iowa into the first Midwestern state to sanction same-sex marriage. . .

Groups that wanted the justices ousted poured more than 0,000 into their effort, with heavy support from out-of-state conservative and religious groups. Campaigns that supported the justices and the current state court system spent more than 0,000.

The success of the campaign against the three justices is particularly striking considering the justices opponents: nobody. All the justices had to due was get a simple majority to vote to retain them in office, something no justice had failed to do in Iowa since that state adopted their judicial election system in 1962.

Why the Election Losses Matter

The election losses makes it less likely that elected justices in other states will declare anti-gay-marriage laws unconstitutional in their own jurisdictions.

Unlike the justices for U.S. Supreme Court, justices for 36 state supreme courts, including Iowa, are elected, not appointed. When these justices next decide gay marriage issues, they might now think twice before ruling in favor of gay marriage. The ability for out-of-state groups to fund campaigns against them could mean placing their job at risk if they issue an opinion supporting gay marriage.

In fact, that’s exactly what the opposition group set out to do, according to Vander Plaats, the group’s leader. Three months ago he said:

The ultimate goal is, hopefully, by voting these three justices off of the court on November 2, that we’ll send a message not only across Iowa but hopefully across the country about what was our founders’ intent about the separation of powers.

Plaats did send a message, but not that one. Instead, the message across the country was about what special interest groups will do to justices who vote against gay marriage bans.

[Cross-posted at the Gay Law Report, where I discuss LGBT laws and related news.]

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Follow Election Results Live with HRC

First of all, if you haven’t voted yet, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and cast a ballot for pro-equality candidates!

After you’ve done that, settle in for the night along with HRC as we track pro-equality campaigns around the country.  There are a number of ways to plug in:


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Gay Politics: Election Results 2010


Towleroad News #gay

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