Wendy Davis wins Texas Democratic gubernatorial bid, will face Greg Abbott

wendy-davis-hrc-blog450As expected, Fort Worth state Sen. Wendy Davis secured the Democratic nomination for Texas governor Tuesday night.

“I am proud to be your candidate for governor,” Davis told a crowd of supporters at her campaign headquarters in Fort Worth. “And I’m ready to fight for you and all hardworking Texans. Now is the time to fight for our future.  This is not the time to stand still.”

Davis, who’s endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Texas, is a longtime LGBT ally, having supported Fort Worth’s nondiscrimination ordinance during her time on the Fort Worth City Council to sponsoring LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation and co-authoring an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation.

She came out for marriage equality weeks before a federal judge found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. After the ruling last week, she released a statement commending the judge, saying “I believe that all Texans who love one another and are committed to spending their lives together should be allowed to marry.”

Davis won the nomination with 77 percent of the vote. She’ll go on to face Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in November. Abbott won the Republican nomination with 92 percent of the vote.

And Tuesday night, while Davis didn’t specifically mention LGBT Texans, she promised to fight for the freedoms for every Texan.

“I will be a governor who fights for all freedoms — not certain freedoms for certain people,” Davis said. “Greg Abbott wants to dictate for all women, including victims of rape or incest, what decisions they should make. I will be a governor who fights for Texas’ future.  Greg Abbott? He’s just a defender of the status quo.”

—  Dallasvoice

Did state Rep. Jonathan Stickland once support same-sex marriage?

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Jonathan Stickland

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, is being accused of supporting same-sex marriage by Andy Cargile, his opponent in the Republican Primary.

Cargile’s campaign is circulating Facebook comment from Stickland’s page that tout his support for same-sex marriage.

In an August 2011 post, Stickland comments, “I a pro-union rights, and I am pro-gay marriage.” Screenshots of the posts were sent to the Texas Tribune.

Family Values is  listed on Stickland’s campaign website under issues.

“The family is the foundation of every society and I believe it is under attack,” his website states. “I believe marriage is between a man, a woman and God.”

Stickland’s office did not immediately respond for requests for comment.

But Stickland spokesman Luke Macias told the Tribune via email: “HAHA. Gay marriage really????” He added that Stickland “is one of the biggest advocates for traditional marriage in Texas. Jonathan believes marriage is between a man and woman and has a voting record to back it up.”

Stickland scored a 14 on Equality Texas’ Legislative Scorecard last year.  He co-authored HB 1568, authored  by state Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, aimed to cut state funding for school districts that offer domestic partner benefits after Pflugerville ISD announced it would offer DP benefits. The bill was left pending in committee.

Statewide advocacy group Equality Texas released a statement disputing the claims that Stickland has a voting record on marriage.

“The issue of marriage equality simply did not come up for a vote during Stickland’s single term in the Legislature,”  Equality Texas Legislative Specialist Daniel Williams said. “It’s bad enough to actually have an anti-marriage voting record, but to lie and claim to have one when none exists is truly bizarre.”

—  Dallasvoice

George Clayton says he’ll advocate for marriage equality in HD 102 race

George Clayton

George Clayton

Former State Board of Education member George Clayton plans to advocate for marriage equality if elected to represent North Texas’ House District 102, he announced Thursday.

Clayton, who announced earlier this year he’d be running as a Democrat instead of a Republican, was outed in a whisper campaign before losing his re-election bid to the State Board of Education last year.

While Clayton previously told Dallas Voice he didn’t want to be considered the “gay candidate,” his platform released Thursday lists gay marriage among his goals.

“I will introduce legislation that would prohibit all laws and ordinances, local or otherwise, that ban gay marriage,” Clayton said in a statement.  “It is time for Texas and Texans to move forward and depart from the fears and prejudices of the past and present. If this action cannot be done legislatively, then it will have to be accomplished in the courts. It is inevitable and those who oppose it might just as well prepare for it.”

State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, authored a marriage equality bill earlier this year. The bill would require two-thirds majority in each chamber in order to place the state’s constitutional marriage amendment back on the ballot for Texas voters to overturn.

Statewide advocacy group Equality Texas is launching a marriage project entitled Why Marriage Matters – Texas, which will focus on the importance of couples’ stories and how not having the freedom to marry has impacted them in the Lone Star State.

Clayton is the only Democrat in the HD 102 race. On the Republican side, state Rep. Stefani Carter, who was once considering a run for Railroad Commission, is facing three challengers, including former Dallas Councilwoman Linda Koop.  The district includes parts of North Dallas, Addison and Richardson.

Also listed among Clayton’s priorities would be the creation of a Texas Commission on Instruction and Curriculum and changes to the State Board of Education, including appointments by the governor, financial expertise and supervision on school funds and management.

—  Dallasvoice

Jon Buice denied parole in gay Houston man’s 1991 murder

Jon BuiceNot surprisingly, Jon Buice will stay behind bars for at least another year.

Buice is the only remaining assailant out of the 10 teens who beat up and killed Paul Broussard in 1991 in an anti-gay attack in Houston’s Montrose area.

While he was granted parole two years ago, the decision was later reversed. Since then, efforts by his attorney and gay activist Ray Hill have ramped up to help him be released. Broussard’s mother and Houston victim advocate Andy Kahan have pushed for Buice to remain in jail at least 27 years, the age Broussard was when he was murdered.

Statewide advocacy group Equality Texas has supported the efforts to keep Buice in prison.  So have many LGBT-friendly state lawmakers.

—  Dallasvoice

Amarillo nuclear plant now offers health benefits to married gay couples

logo copyIf you’re lesbian and build nuclear weapons in the Texas Panhandle, you are now eligible to put your wife on your company insurance plan. If you’re gay and married, your husband is welcome, too.

Pantex, the only nuclear assembly and disassembly plant in the U.S., located near Amarillo, removed the words “opposite sex” from its HR policy. Any couple legally married may now participate in the company’s benefit plans, according to Equality Texas.

Pantex employs 3,200 people. An employee who wants to enroll a spouse in the company plan must present a valid marriage license from any of the 13 states or other jurisdictions that offer marriage equality.

Amarillo is a four-hour drive on I-40 to Albuquerque, which issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

—  David Taffet

ACTION ALERT: San Antonio to vote on nondiscrimination ordinance this week

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Equality Texas is calling on LGBT advocates to help encourage the San Antonio City Council to pass a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance this week.

The ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status in employment, housing and public accommodations. After delaying a vote in June, the council will vote on Thursday.

Opponents of the ordinance have been vocal, with more people opposing the measure than supporting it speaking last week at a meeting.

People can email council members here. Equality Texas is continuing to urge local supporters and those from other cities to come and voice their support at several events this week while wearing red.

Those events are:

Faith Leaders Rally for Equality, Justice & Healing. Tuesday at 2 p.m. at San Antonio City Hall, 100 Militiary Plaza.

“Citizens to be Heard.” Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Municipal Plaza Building, 114 West Commerce.

• City Council Votes on the NDO. Thursday at 9 a.m. at Municipal Plaza Building, 114 West Commerce.

—  Dallasvoice

Equality Texas says it isn’t partnering with Stoli Guy at S4 on Saturday

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UPDATE: GayCities spokesman Oscar Raymundo said a press release inaccurately mentioned the organizations, including Equality Texas, that would be the beneficiaries at Stoli competitions this week.

“An inaccurate release was sent out yesterday mentioning Equality CA, Equality Texas and HRC as beneficiaries of The Most Original Stoli Guy event series,” he said. “In fact, GayCities is still in the process of finalizing the beneficiaries to be a part of the Stoli Guy campaign, which will be made public once they are officially confirmed. We apologize for the miscommunication and any confusion it might have caused.”

ORIGINAL POST: Stolichnaya Vodka is still being boycotted in gay bars across the nation for ties to Russia, which has implemented extreme anti-gay laws recently.

While many bars in Dallas are still serving the vodka, Station 4 is hosting The Most Original Stoli Guy competition Aug. 17. The event is a partnership between Stoli’s parent company, SPI, and GayCities. The event drew protesters in New York and may draw more protesters in California, where the contest will be held in San Diego and San Francisco this week.

However, GayCities announced Tuesday in an emailed press release that “in lieu of the national Stoli boycott by some in the LGBT community,” Gay Cities has convinced SPI to donate $5 for each person who RSVP’s and attends the contest in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and D.C. The money would go to statewide advocacy agencies Equality California and Equality Texas, as well as the Human Rights Campaign and have organization representatives present, the email stated.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, said he had no knowledge of the organization being a beneficiary of the event. He even checked with board members in Dallas, who also had no knowledge of participating.

“We have no relationship with Stoli,” Smith said. “We would not accept money from Stoli.”

Equality California and HRC have also denied knowledge of the partnership.

We’ve emailed GayCities for a comment and will update if we hear back.

The Stoli Guy contest has competitions in 14 cities across the country. Finalists will then compete in New York for the chance to Stoli’s national LGBT ambassador, according to the website.

—  Dallasvoice

Equality Texas says man should remain in prison for 1991 gay-bashing murder

Paul Broussard

Paul Broussard

Jon Buice is again up for parole in the 1991 murder of gay Houston banker Paul Broussard, who was brutally beaten and stabbed in the Montrose area when Buice and his friends decided to “beat up some queers.”

Buice, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 1992, is the only one of the 10 teens from The Woodlands who remains behind bars. But Andy Kahan with the Houston Crime Victim’s Office said Buice’s case is under review for parole. His hearing is set for Sept. 24.

Statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas is again calling for Buice to be denied parole and urging people to contact the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has said she wants Buice to remain in jail for at least 27 years, the age of her son when he was killed.

“When is it OK to allow a violent criminal out of jail early? A criminal, who blatantly snubbed his nose at the laws of humanity and, with hate in his soul, struck down another simply because the victim was gay,” Equality Texas wrote on its blog. “A criminal who found enjoyment at going out and ‘beating up some queers.’ A criminal who used his fist, steel toed boots, and a nail studded 2X4 to slowly murder another human being. A criminal who incited nine others to join him in this crime.  That is the question that, once again, is before the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles and the question that Equality Texas answers: NOT YET!”

—  Dallasvoice

Out TX officials praise Supreme Court rulings, look ahead

Parker.Annise

Annise Parker

Local and state officials and agencies applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings Wednesday in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and allowing a pathway for marriage equality to return to California.

In two 5-4 decisions, Section 3 of DOMA was ruled unconstitutional and the federal government will have to recognize legally married same-sex couples. But Section 2 that addresses states recognizing same-sex marriages, was not up for consideration and the high court dismissed the Proposition 8 case on standing. So while many officials in Texas were pleased with the DOMA ruling, their attention turned to how to create marriage equality in Texas.

“The desire to legally affirm and protect loving relationships and families is fundamental and one that the American people increasingly understand and support,” lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement. “The Court’s decision strikes down an inequality that has prevented legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as other married couples. Today we take a huge step forward, but this fight is not over. It is my hope that the decision leads to greater acceptance and tolerance — and ultimately to full equality.”

Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who’s openly gay, said he was glad the ruling found that gay couples deserve the same federal protections.

“It is the concept of equal protection that ensures all Americans regardless of background may enjoy the freedom and dignity afforded to them by the constitution and not just a privileged few who happen to be members of a particular racial or ethnic group, religious denomination, gender or sexual orientation,” Fitzsimmons said.

—  Dallasvoice

Villalba on marriage equality: ‘That’s a dangerous question for me to answer’

State Rep. Jason Villalba speaks at a Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas meeting Tuesday. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

State Rep. Jason Villalba speaks at a Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas meeting Tuesday. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Republican Jason Villalba just completed his freshman year in the state House, managing to finish the session with a D-minus on Equality Texas’ Legislative Scorecard.

Villalba was one of only three freshmen Republicans to score above an F on the scorecard. Gatesville’s J.D. Sheffield also got a D-minus, and Austin’s Tony Dale got a D.

Villalba discussed the session Tuesday at the Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas’ June meeting, focusing on education, transportation and water conservation. But he talked LGBT issues with Dallas Voice before the meeting.

His Equality Texas score resulted from his voting to table two amendments affecting the LGBT community and voting against Republican Matt Krause’s discriminatory amendment.

He said he also opposed the anti-gay bill by Drew Springer, R-Muenster, that would have defunded school districts that offered domestic partner benefits.

“I believe strongly that in Texas we need to keep the government out of our private lives and I want to make sure that we do that,” he said. “With respect to an issue like that, it’s a very sensitive topic. I think with respect to state money, we need to give that some very deep consideration.”

Asked if he supports offering DP benefits, he said it should remain a local control issue.

“I believe for private corporations, that if they want to provide benefits for same-sex partners, that that should be within their ability. I believe with respect state government agencies — agencies that receive federal resources or state resources — that should be up to the city or that should be under local control,” Villalba said. “I don’t believe the state of Texas should be making those kinds of decisions. I think that should be left to the local groups. If [Springer’s] local school district or local community wants to provide it, they should be able to do that. But if they want to prohibit that, they should be able to do that.”

—  Dallasvoice