“Country Gravy” dishes out relationship advice at Theater LaB Houston

Julia Laskowski and Patti Rabaza play the fiesty southern ladies with an opinion on everything

Anyone who’s lived in the south long enough knows this woman. She may be found at the local beauty salon, or in the canned foods aisle at the Piggly Wiggly, and her attendance at church potlucks is mandatory. Wherever you find her she knows exactly what you’re doing wrong in your relationship and how to fix it. From January 13 through 29 you can see her and her friends in all their glory in Country Gravy and Other Obsessions at Theater LaB Houston (1706 Alamo), produced by Magic Butterfly Productions. Co-writers and stars Julia Kay Laskowski and Patti Rabaza play two Texas women who decide that their myriad opinions on matters of the heart qualify them to lead a relationship seminar. When their antiquated attitudes meet real-world relationships musical hilarity ensues.

The original production features Aaron Ellisor on the piano and is directed and choreographed by Michael Tapley. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling the theater Box Office at 713-868-7516

—  admin

‘Perform or provide’

DADT repeal gives progressive chaplains a chance to counter evangelical clergy in the military

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CATCH-ALL CHAPLAIN | Chaplain Chris Antal (Lt.) attended the meeting of the Forum on Military Chaplaincy at Cathedral of Hope in October. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
When a soldier recently came to Chaplain Chris Antal, a lieutenant in the Army National Guard in New York and a Unitarian Universalist minister, and asked if he’d pray with her even though she was a pagan, he said he replied, “Of course I will, but you’ll have to show me how.”

Several weeks later, when he saw her again, she told him that the day she had come to visit him, she had hit rock bottom. He had, she told him, saved her life that day.

But Antal said he was only doing his job — helping any soldier who comes to him.

“I’ve earned the nickname, the Catch-all Chaplain,” he said, explaining that it means he takes everyone the other chaplains don’t want to deal with.

Carpenter.Dodd

Capt. Tom Carpenter (ret.) and Col. Paul Dodd (ret.)

Being there to help a soldier in need is what it’s all about for a military chaplain, said Col. Paul Dodd, a retired chaplain who now lives in Austin.

“The duty of a military chaplain is to perform or provide,” said Dodd, adding that he once sponsored an Islamic conference.

Dodd said that no chaplain can perform every service needed by every member of the military. But if a chaplain can’t perform the service requested, he or she must provide that soldier with a referral to someone else who can.

Antal said that chaplains who enlisted knew what they were getting into — to some extent. But none of them really expected the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And for many, that repeal was a game changer.

In October, a group of active and retired chaplains and military personnel and other people of faith, such as the Rev. Steve Sprinkle from Brite Divinity

School in Fort Worth, met at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to begin looking at ways of addressing the issues that arose for military chaplains around DADT repeal.

Dave Guy Gainer said The Forum on Military Chaplaincy is not exactly new. It formed in 2005 as a project of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and worked under the radar until DADT was repealed.

Sprinkle said people in the Pentagon, up through Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, knew about their work and considered their statements throughout the DADT repeal process.

And now, with repeal complete, the group met to “come out.” At their meeting in Dallas, forum members considered ways to become an independent organization helping to ensure newly out service members receive the pastoral care they need while serving in the military.

Susan Gore, principle of The Mentor Group and editor of the book Coming Out In Faith, moderated the Dallas conference. She said the group started with several retired military officers “who wanted to push back against the far-right skew.”

Sprinkle has been part of the forum for four years and said he was recruited to participate because of his work on hate crimes.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sprinkle said, more and more members of the Chaplain Corps have come from just one school — Liberty

University, founded by far-right evangelical Jerry Falwell. Today, Sprinkle estimated, one-third of military chaplains come from Liberty University.

“They instituted a program that barely meets minimum requirements,” he said of the evangelical school. “It’s an online course.”

And, Sprinkle said, Liberty University’s goal is to take control of the Chaplain Corps and use the military as a pool for religious recruits.

“This is fertile ground to bring people to Jesus at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Carpenter, a retired Marine captain and one of the forum’s founders.

“I’ve heard stories of them holding the hand of someone who’s dying and trying to bring them to Jesus.”

And although such actions contradict military policy, no one in the corps has been disciplined or dismissed for it.

“They give chaplains a lot of leeway,” Carpenter said.

Gainer said the military is looking for well-rounded ministers who bring experience with them to the military.

According to the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C., candidates must be endorsed by their denomination or faith group and be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

But Sprinkle said that Liberty University is transparent about its goals, and those goals do not line up.

“They’re not committed to pluralism or serving all the troops,” he said.

Gainer said that the greatest opposition to repealing DADT came from the Chaplain Corps because military chaplains answer to two groups — the military and their denomination. Those chaplains that didn’t adhere to a strict stance of maintaining the ban on gays and lesbians were threatened with losing their accreditation from their endorsing religious body — and with it their livelihood and their pensions.

But that contradicts the stated goals of the Chaplain Corps.

“Someone has to say, ‘Either you comply and serve all the troops all the time or get out,’” Sprinkle said.

Gore said that one of the goals of the newly public forum is to “rebalance the Chaplain Corps by bringing in more mainstream faiths.” She said that for many who come from more liberal traditions, questions of what’s a just war make it hard to serve in the military. Antal, for example, is one of just four Unitarian Universalists in the Chaplain Corps.

During its push for repeal of DADT, members
said, the forum had several successes working behind the scenes.

Despite the assumption of confidentiality between parishioner and clergy, that wasn’t always the case between gay soldier and chaplain. Dodd said that a number of discharges under DADT occurred after a soldier talked to a chaplain and the chaplain turned them in.

In fact, he wrote a white paper on the practice. After he submitted it, the military tightened up on chaplain confidentiality, Dodd said.

Carpenter, an attorney, wrote an amicus brief for the Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against DADT. The court found in favor of declaring DADT unconstitutional, but Congress repealed the law before the decision could be enforced.

Carpenter said that the repeal allows gays and lesbians to serve with no protection. The legal decision, had it not been vacated upon repeal, would have allowed gays and lesbians to serve equally.

Now that DADT is gone, the forum is examining how to ensure LGB personnel receive the same services as other troops from chaplains.

Dodd said that right-wing chaplains charge that allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military will force them to act in ways that go against their beliefs. Some have said they would be required to perform same-sex weddings.

Dodd called that ridiculous. Chaplains are never asked to perform duties that go against their religious beliefs, he said.

“I turned down weddings,” he said. “An officer came to me who wasn’t divorced.”

He said the officer tried to pull strings and force the issue, but Dodd wasn’t going to discuss marrying someone who was still married to someone else.

“But we’re insisting chaplains have the authority, if it’s in keeping with their faith, to marry same-sex couples,” he said.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal provides no family benefits. For some issues, Dodd and Carpenter suggested work-arounds.

Issuing ID cards would be extremely helpful, especially to same-sex couples with children, Carpenter said, noting that “That way either parent could get on base to get a child to the hospital.”

In another example, joint assignments can be offered at the discretion of a commanding officer, and married couples are often assigned together when they both qualify for positions that are available at the same base. Same-sex couples could be given the same priority.

As the forum looks ahead, rebalancing the Chaplain Corps with members from a more diverse background to reflect the membership of the military is a priority.

“And we need to take care of our trans brothers and sisters,” Carpenter said.

The repeal of DADT did not address any transgender issues and does not allow transgender men or women to serve in the military.

Gainer believes representatives of the forum need to sit down with far-right members of the Chaplain Corps and agree to disagree. He said that before the repeal of DADT, they talked to people at Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. While both groups testified against the repeal, they met with some success.

“The president of the VFW in Pflugerville said it was the right thing to do,” Gainer said.

That dialogue, he believed, would help chaplains perform or at least provide a useful referral, rather than doing more damage to a soldier seeking help.

Gore thought that the focus of discussion should be with the majority of chaplains “who want to do a good job and are part of the moveable middle.”

“We have to convince administrators and educators in divinity schools to encourage some of their best and brightest to serve,” Sprinkle said. “So many schools dropped what they were doing during the Vietnam era.”

Antal thinks that gays and lesbians will gain more acceptance as they tell their stories in non-confrontational settings and others see “their identity as professional service members is primary.”

While the work of the forum will concentrate on helping LGB military personnel, creating a more diverse Chaplain Corps may help a majority of service members. Recent polls show that a majority of troops find the chaplaincy irrelevant.

Sprinkle called the work of the forum a gift from the LGBT community to the nation.

“You wouldn’t think we’d be the ones opening the doors so that all troops will be served with dignity, integrity and respect,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 4, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Marvin Hamlisch conducts the Dallas Pops

The way he is

We are starting to think that Oscar-winning conductor Marvin Hamlisch has a thing for Dallas. Or at least he’s making it a habit. He was here almost exactly a year ago to the day. We don’t mind it at all if he’s going to keep playing his music from A Chorus Line, The Way We Were and so much more. After all, he’s helming the DSO pops as its principal conductor. Who wouldn’t get excited?

DEETS: Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. 8 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. $22–125. DallasSymphony.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Tig Notaro tonight at The Kessler

Get Notaro-ized with a few laughs

With a sense of humor so dry, you want to offer her a glass of water, out comedian Tig Notaro knows exactly what to say and how to say it to get a laugh. On her new and aptly named debut comedy disc Good One (Secretly Canadian), she touches on a variety of topics, ranging from Chastity Bono and Taylor Dayne to artificial insemination and babies taking showers.

Read the entire piece here.

DEETS: With Mark Agee. The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St. Aug. 30. 7:30 p.m. $15. TheKessler.org

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Is this Bud for us? New Budweiser ad appears to support gays in the military

Budweiser has released a new military-themed ad that some folks are saying is also a “pro-gays-in-the-military” ad.

The ad starts off with a soldier calling another guy and saying, “Hey man. I’m coming home.” Then in a split-screen, continues with scenes of the soldier making his way home while the other guy goes about planning and organizing a welcome home party, and then being the first one to step forward and hug the soldier when he gets home.

If it is a “gay” ad, it isn’t, well, flamboyantly gay. And that’s perfectly fine, since there are many, many, many LGBT people out there — including many of our men and women in uniform — who are definitely not flamboyantly gay themselves. We deserve to have our diverse community portrayed (and honored and celebrated) realistically in all our diversity.

Is this a gay ad? Did Budweiser mean for it to be a gay ad? Huffington Post has a poll up, and readers there are pretty evenly split, with 33 percent saying it is totally gay, 25 percent saying no way it’s gay, and 41 percent saying probably not but I can see why some folks think it is.

And AfterElton.com points out that “if you substituted a woman for [the guy the soldier calls first], it would read pretty much exactly like a heterosexual relationship.”

Only Budweiser knows for sure, of course. But — again, as AfterElton notes — this is a mega-big company with some pretty experienced advertising folks working for them, and do you really think they would let something so very obviously possibly gay slip through inadvertently?

Watch the ad yourself (below) and see what you think. All I know for sure is that I don’t drink beer of any kind, but if I did drink beer, I think I’d probably drink Bud.

—  admin

NH preps for House marriage hearing; we want public to hear what, exactly, leading state group wants to repeal (*Hint: It’s more than marriage)

In anticipation of Thursday’s marriage equality hearing before the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee, the National Organization For Marriage is asking readers to email that body’s members, House Speaker Bill O’Brien, and House Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt:

Urgent Alert: Marriage Hearing in Concord this Thursday!!! [NOM]

And for once, we totally agree with NOM. Because we think fair-minded New Hampshirites and all concerned neighbors should also email all of those same people and ask why the state’s most prominent anti-equality/pro-repeal group, the NOM-aligned Cornerstone Action (sure to be represented at Thursday’s hearing), is encouraging scientifically discredited ‘ex-gay” therapy on its website:



Why is New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Policy pushing ‘ex-gay’ myths? [YouTube]

And unlike NOM, we won’t make you use a form email message. Because we trust your independent brain to say the right thing. Email addresses below:

LaCasse, Paul (Republican), New Hampshire House Sullivan 04 , NH

paul.lacasse@leg.state.nh.us

Weber, Lucy (Democrat), New Hampshire House Cheshire 02 , NH

lwmcv@comcast.net

Sorg, Gregory (Republican) – Representative , New Hampshire House Grafton 03 , NH

greg.sorg@leg.state.nh.us

O’Brien, William (Republican), New Hampshire House Hillsborough 04 , NH

william.obrien@leg.state.nh.us

Rowe, Robert (Republican) – Representative , New Hampshire House Hillsborough 06 , NH

rh.rowe@comcast.net

Souza, Kathleen (Republican) – Representative , New Hampshire House Hillsborough 11 , NH

kathleen.souza@leg.state.nh.us

Peterson, Lenette (Republican), New Hampshire House Hillsborough 19 , NH

lenette.peterson@leg.state.nh.us

McClarren, Donald (Republican), New Hampshire House Hillsborough 21 , NH

donald.mcclarren@leg.state.nh.us

Palmer, Barry (Republican), New Hampshire House Hillsborough 26 , NH

Email N/A

Silva, Peter (Republican), New Hampshire House Hillsborough 26 , NH

PSilva372@aol.com

Giuda, J. Brandon (Republican), New Hampshire House Merrimack 07 , NH

brandon.giuda@leg.state.nh.us

Potter, Frances (Democrat) – Representative , New Hampshire House Merrimack 10 , NH

frances.potter@leg.state.nh.us

Watrous, Rick (Democrat), New Hampshire House Merrimack 12 , NH

rick.watrous@leg.state.nh.us

Bettencourt, David (Republican), New Hampshire House Rockingham 04 , NH

DJ.Bettencourt@leg.state.nh.us

Tregenza, Norman (Republican), New Hampshire House Carroll 02 , NH

norman.tregenza@leg.state.nh.us

Hagan, Joseph (Republican), New Hampshire House Rockingham 07 , NH

Email N/A

Wheaton, Gary (Republican), New Hampshire House Rockingham 14 , NH

gary.wheaton@leg.state.nh.us

Murphy, Brian (Republican), New Hampshire House Rockingham 18 , NH

brianm@siaa.net

Andolina, Donald (Republican), New Hampshire House Strafford 06 , NH

district6.dover@comcast.net

Wall, Janet (Democrat) – Democrat Caucus Leader , New Hampshire House Strafford 07 , NH

janet.wall@leg.state.nh.us

**Email ALL at once




Good As You

—  David Taffet

What exactly does ‘fair and open amendment process’ actually mean to Senators Collins and Lugar?

We keep hearing that some GOP Senators will support bringing the Defense Authorization bill to the floor. Via Kerry Eleveld’s report on the Senate Press conference yesterday:

I am confident that we have more than 60 votes prepared to take up the defense authorization with the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ if only there will be a guarantee of a fair and open amendment process, in other words, whether we’ll take enough time to do it,” Lieberman told reporters at a press conference, naming GOP senators Susan Collins and Richard Lugar as yes votes. “Time is an inexcusable reason not to get this done.”

Here’s my question: What exactly does “fair and open amendment process” mean to Senators Collins and Lugar? Are they going to tell us in advance — or will they keep moving the goal line (think Grassley and Snowe during the health care debate.) And, what happens when Mitch McConnell brings down the hammer on them? Let’s be clear: The Senate Republican leaders have already made their decision — they will filibuster the Defense bill over DADT. Will Collins, Lugar and the other allegedly pro-repeal GOPers cave, like they usually do, but offer some lame-ass procedural excuse?

One has to wonder if Lugar, Collins and other GOP Senators want to face the wrath of John McCain. He’s known for his extremely volatile temper and he’s become obsessed with blocking the DADT language from passing. Look at how quickly he got his wife to flip-flop on DADT after she told the world it’s one of the reasons gay kids are killing themselves.

We need a transparent process here. Obviously, this blog has been unabashed about holding Democrats accountable — and we will continue to do that. But, we need to know the specifics of what Collins and Lugar want the process to look like. Then, we can gauge if they’re playing fair, too.

And, I included this paragraph from the NY Times in the post below, but it bears repeating:

Leaders of the new House Republican majority have indicated that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is not a priority for them, making it unlikely they would approve the bill again. That means if the repeal language is not approved by the end of this year, it will be effectively dead.

That’s right. And, it will be dead for a long time. This is our best shot. Those are the stakes. That is what Obama, Reid, Collins, Lieberman, Lugar and the rest need to remember.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Video: Can you tell which of these servicemembers are gay? Exactly.




Good As You

—  admin

Video: If God Inc. made an ‘ex-gay’ infomercial, it’d look exactly like this:

Does God Love Gay People? from TrueLife.org on Vimeo.

All this smug, junk science-laden possession of the world’s concrete answers can be yours for just three low payments of: (1) A sex life that matches your desires, (2) companionship that jibes with your instincts, and (3) personal worth free from myopic limitations on what supposedly constitutes homo sapien morality. Call now — operators are standing by.




Good As You

—  admin

What Exactly Gets Better? Well, for starters… ; Towleroad Tips

If you just came out from under a rock this week, this is part of the It Gets Better Project on YouTube, launched by Dan Savage in response to incresased coverage of suicides by young gay people, and likely an increase in actual attempts. This one by half of Logo's Jefferey and Cole team and TV writer Guy Branum speaks to the important role of friends in the end. A good reminder for any age.

 

Towleroad notes…

Though his talents differ from those of the friends portrayed in the video, thanks to my friend Rob for sending it on.

You too can always tip us on news or anything you think we should consider for Towleroad by sending us email at tips @ towleroad.com or through our contact page. Steve Pep's will be posting through the weekend, following a great effort in a  big news by by Andrew Belonsky. He continues Monday. And Andy Towle really will be back in another week.

And, Direct message to Andy T.: Yes you're missed. No, it isn't the same. Put down he iPad.

Bonus Tip: On an Iphone? Hit the bookmark button when on the site to get a direct iink to the site among your apps.

Bonus Tip 2: Can't remember how to spell "towleroad"? Just start typing t-o-w-l in Google's real-time search and you're here. Or use the shortcut url of tlrd.com (like our twitter name) which forwards to the site automatically. 

Have a good weekend.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright