Kiss-in seeks domestic partner benefits for U of H

Pucker up!

Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday, while some battle the supermarket crowds for chocolate and champagne and others battle  that soul-sucking feeling that they will be alone forever, students at the University of Houston will be battling for equal benefits for LGBT employees.

“Our LGBT faculty and staff at the University of Houston are not given the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts,” says James Lee, one of the student organizers. “This rally is an issue campaign to let administration know we care about our professors, directors and advisers and we think they all deserve to be treated equally.”

Lee explains that the event is not just for same-sex couples, the organizers want opposite-sex couples to participate to help demonstrate that straight and LGBT relationships are the same.  Got no one to kiss? No problem, says Lee, “We will have rally signs and other goodies you can show support with.”

The smooch-fest kicks off at 12:30 pm in Butler Plaza (in front of the MD Anderson Library).

—  admin

“Defining Marriage: A Debate!” at U of H tomorrow

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

One day we will get to the point where an University inviting guests to debate marriage equality will be greeted with the same scorn that an on-campus debate on women’s suffrage or whether or not African-Americans are 3/5 of a person would engender, but that day is not today. Just in time for the expected U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling on Prop. 8  tomorrow, Feb. 7, the Federalist Society and Outlaw at the University of Houston present “Defining Marriage: A Debate!” at noon in the Bates Law Building room 109.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, will be on hand to defend the continued prohibition against marriage equality. Mitchell Katine, who served as local counsel in Lawrence v. Texas (the Supreme Court case declaring Texas’ law against “homosexual conduct” unconstitutional) will defend marriage as a civil right, constitutionally guaranteed by equal protection under the law.

As a bonus the first 70 attendees to arrive will receive a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich and waffle fries, because we like our civil rights debated with a side of irony.

After the jump get a sneak peak at the kind of keen logical arguments to be expected from Dr. Morse:

—  admin

Out & Equal to honor Parker, Welts

Mayor Annise Parker

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates will honor Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts at its Leadership Celebration on March 14 in San Francisco.

In October, Out & Equal held its week-long Workplace Summit at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Because of rave reviews, the group plans to return in the next few years. Welts was among the speakers at the Dallas convention.

Now in its fifth year, the Leadership Celebration is a fundraising event that includes a hosted reception and dinner. Parker and Welts will be recognized as role models and inspirations in the movement to achieve equality in the workforce.

To attend the San Francisco event, register online.

The 2012 Workplace Summit will be in Baltimore on from Oct. 29-Nov 1.

—  David Taffet

Teacher accuses TC College of discrimination

Gill says English Department chair at Northeast Campus told her the state and the school ‘do not like homosexuals’

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill
Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

HURST — Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill filed suit Wednesday, Sept. 7, against a professor and a dean at Northeast Campus of Tarrant County College in Hurst, claiming that she was denied the opportunity to apply for a permanent, full- time teaching position there because of the English Department chair’s bias against what he perceived her sexual orientation to be.

Tarrant County College adopted a nondiscrimination policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation on March 9 of this year.

Frank Griffis, director of public relations and marketing for Tarrant County College, said it “would not be appropriate” for school officials to comment on pending litigation. He also said school officials had not yet been served with papers and therefore had not read the complaint.

Gill said she had worked as a full-time temporary English professor for about a year at the Northeast Campus. But when the position was to be made permanent, English Department Chair Eric Devlin refused to allow her to apply for the permanent position.

Gill said when she complained about Devlin to Northeast Campus Humanities Division Dean Antonio R. Howell, he initially seemed to side with her, but after speaking to Devlin, Howell refused to communicate further with her. Gill said although she is a lesbian and has never tried to hide that fact, she had never talked about her orientation with Devlin or anyone else at the school.

Both Devlin and Howell are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit.

Gill is represented in the lawsuit by Lambda Legal South Central Region staff attorney Ken Upton, joined by pro bono counsel Benjamin D. Williams from the law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.

Gill and Upton held a press conference Wednesday to announce that the lawsuit had been filed earlier that morning in U.S. district court in Fort Worth. The press conference was held at a Hurst hotel located just a few blocks from the Tarrant County College campus where Gill had taught.

According to the complaint filed Wednesday, and statements Gill made during the press conference, Gill was first hired on a full time, temporary basis as an English professor on Aug. 21, 2009. A little more than a month later, at the end of October, a female “dual-enrollment” student — a high school student who was also taking college classes — in Gill’s distance learning class cheated by stealing an exam and skipped some classes.

The student’s high school counselor told Gill that the student has a history of disruptive behavior, and when the student dropped the class, Gill was told the situation was closed.

On Nov. 9, however, Devlin called Gill into his office and told her the student had accused Gill of “flirting” with female students. Gill denied the accusations, noting that there was always another teacher in the class at the same time.

That’s when Devlin responded with “a lengthy diatribe about homosexuals and how the Texas public views them,” according to the complaint. Gill said Devlin went on to say that Texas is a conservative state and TCC is a conservative school, and that “Texas and Tarrant County College do not like homosexuals.”

Gill continued to teach at TCC, receiving high praise and compliments from students and staff alike, including from Devlin. Then in May 2010, she and other full-time temporary professors were told by Howell that all seven temporary full- time positions were being made permanent, and that they were being re-designated as adjunct faculty until the permanent positions were filled.

Gill said Howell also encouraged her and the other temporary professors to apply for the permanent jobs. Gill applied for all seven but was the only one of the seven temporary professors not hired for the permanent positions. Gill said that she was, in fact, not even allowed to interview for any of the positions, even though her experience and credentials were as good as or better than those who were hired.

Gill said she met with Howell and told him about Devlin’s anti-gay comments and refusal to allow her to interview for the permanent positions. She said Howell promised her to discuss the situation with Devlin immediately, but that he never got back in touch with her.

She said she also got no response when she tried to discuss the situation with the vice president and president of Tarrant County College.

Gill continued to teach as an adjunct professor at the campus through December 2010, although, she said, Devlin’s attitude toward her became “even more hostile.”

And she said that although she was originally assigned classes for the 2011 spring term, as she was preparing for those classes she discovered she had been removed as the professor. When she inquired about the status of the class, Gill said, she was told that Devlin had specifically instructed that those classes be taken away from her.

Upton said that Devlin and Howell violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to allow Gill to apply for the permanent teaching position. He said Gill’s suit is asking that she be allowed to complete the application process and that she be compensated for the time she has been unemployed.

Gill, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Arlington, said she would love to get a teaching job with TCC, and while she would prefer to work at another campus, she is willing to go back to the Northeast Campus and work again in Devlin’s department.

“I worked hard. I earned it,” Gill said of the permanent position. “I have nothing to be ashamed of. If it [her working in Devlin’s department again] would be awkward for anyone, I think it would be awkward for him [Devlin] because he is the one who was in the wrong.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Out & Equal Uncorked tonight at Times Ten

Days of wine and more wine

Join Out & Equal for their annual fundraiser and partake in  a variety of Times Ten Cellars wines with cheeses and other appetizers. Live music, prize drawings and a live auction of American Airline tickets will all be part of the event. Proceeds benefit Out & Equal DFW’s mission of achieving a world free of discrimination for everyone.

DEETS: Times Ten Cellars, 6324 Prospect Ave. 6:30 p.m. $35 advance, $40 door. For tickets call Jeffrey Gorczynski at 214-226-6502

—  Rich Lopez

PHOTOS: Response to ‘The Response’ begins

Riki Miller, Zombie McZee and Britney Miranda.

The responses to “The Response” are under way in Houston. First out of the gate was Friday night’s LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally.  Despite temperatures that had barely come down from the triple digits, Houstonians thronged to Tranquility Park in downtown. Beyond commenting on the temperature, the common theme of most of the speakers was that the American Family Association and Gov. Perry’s rally is not representative of Houston and is not welcomed.

Robert Shipman, president of the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, said: “I kinda think Rick Perry chose the wrong city!”

He continued “They are the bigots, we are not … we are Houston.”

“I guess we should take comfort in the fact that, except for some of his staffers, [Gov. Perry] couldn’t find enough homegrown bigotry in the state of Texas to put on the event himself,” said Mike Craig, co-chair of Out & Equal Houston. “He had to bus them in from Tupulo, Miss., and Colorado Springs, Colo.” Craig was referring to American Family Association (based in Tupulo) and Focus on the Family (based in Colorado Springs), both co-sponsors of “The Response.”

State Rep.  Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, provided the closing address. He criticized Gov. Perry for using divisive religious rhetoric for political gain. “Being here today I’m proud that we are fighting back against a narrow, theocratic view of the world that we live in and of our country that says that people are not welcomed — that says that people are bad because of who they are. That is not America,” said Coleman. “That is what is dividing our city, our state and our country.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for more coverage of the LGBT community’s response to “The Response.” More photos from the LGBT Texans Against Hate Rally below (click to enlarge):

—  admin

Equal Marriage Bill Passes Maryland Senate Committee

This post is from HRC Regional Field Director Sultan Shakir:

Moments ago, the Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee passed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, SB 116. This victory puts marriage equality one step closer to final passage. On behalf of HRC’s thousands of members and supporters in Maryland, we’d like to thank the seven members of the committee who voted yes, who are listed below.  The bill now heads to the full Senate where we’re working hard with our allies at Equality Maryland to secure the votes for passage. If you live in Maryland and would like to get involved in the effort to pass marriage equality, please email Sultan.Shakir@hrc.org.  

Maryland State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Members who voted yes on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act:

Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery County), Chair
Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore City) Vice-Chair
Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County)
Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Montgomery County)
Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s County)
Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery County)
Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County)


Left to right, Sens. Frosh, Gladden and Brochin


Left to right, Sens. Forehand, Ramirez, Raskin and Zirkin


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

Video: When it comes to Equal Protection’s fair application, we don’t need a dispensation

Earlier today, we showed you a video of Fr. Joseph Palacios making a Catholic case for civil marriage equality independent of religious restraints. Now another Catholic leader will help us make or case, but in a very different way. Have a look:



[STM Communications]

So why does this, a video with no specific gay mentions, make our case? Well, because listen to all the rules. Pretty strict, right? We all know scores of heterosexual couples who would’ve been shut out by them. And that’s fine. Because the Catholic Church has every right to set parameters for the ceremonial component of marriage that match the Vatican’s desires. They have every right to demand their parishioners follow all.

You’ve heard of Bridezillas? Well they have nothing on the Popezilla’s exacting planning!

But what the Church doesn’t have the right to do? The Church doesn’t have the right to demand every other marriage-seeker follow along, regardless of the individual or couple’s own personal views on faith. Yet this forced submission is EXACTLY what the church leaders and its outreach groups (and unofficial but largely Catholic groups like NOM) are trying to do in the current national conversation. The anti-equality Catholics are ignoring the fact that their own marriage constraints already exclude many, many people for a whole host of canonical reasons, and are instead focusing on the one scriptural-based constraint they wish to place on gays. Gays who, as an organized movement, are seeking only the CIVIL MARRIAGE component, with all the ancillary religious decisions left to the denominations.




Good As You

—  David Taffet

Video: Focus staffer frustrated by SOTU’s gay presence. No, not you yourself, American hero Daniel Hernandez — just the part that makes you more equal

You’d be hard-pressed to find many Americans from any political stripe who’d consider President Obama’s mention of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal to be one of their most frustrating parts of last night’s State of the Union. But then again, most Americans don’t work at Focus on the Family:

Okay, first off, Ashley: We on the pro-equality side worked even harder. For years. With actual human lives and emotions attached. We worked in every way possible to come to the bipartisan vote that ultimately went in our favor. A vote that will ultimately allow brave Americans like Daniel Hernandez to serve without added fears. A vote that the majority of the American public clearly supports. A vote that was long overdue.

So please, Ash: Spare us the “but we wanted it” rationale! We wanted it more, obviously.

Oh, and speaking of sparing us: If you’re going to cite a poll, don’t cite one that was conducted by a Republican polling firm and commissioned by the Center For Military Readiness (Elaine Donnelly’s organization) and the Family Research Council! Especially not where there is so much actual data available.

You may not realize it, Ashley, but when you get to this part about the supposed “57% of military personnel and families,” your whole characterization changes. You stutter. You look like you are trying to convince rather than inform. There’s a noticeable difference that immediately made us go, “wait a minute, she’s using that B.S. poll, isn’t she?!

We don’t expect such poll utilization to change during your Focus on the Family employ, Ashley, as “pro-family” advocacy is built on squeezing “data” into a preconceived script. But just as constructive feedback, we thought you’d want to know that on this one: The disingenuous mask cracked. Hopefully when we inevitably when the rest of our equality, you’ll bring the full Streep.




Good As You

—  admin

Peace on Earth, Equal Rights for All

Xmas

Thanks to all the readers that have made it the best year ever for Towleroad.

Michael Goff and I, and our regular contributors Steve Pep, Nathaniel Rogers, Ari Ezra Waldman, and Modern Tonic, wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday, and healthy and prosperous 2011.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin