Iconic LGBT activist Ray Hill files for Texas House seat

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

Long time Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill filed paperwork this week to run for the 147th Texas House seat against incumbent Garnet Coleman, D – Houston. The iconic (and iconoclastic) Hill said that he and Coleman agree on many issues but that he had “some issues  that aren’t on the table in Austin.”

Specifically Hill has concerns with the legislature’s approach to criminal justice issues. “The Texas legislature is a serial world class red-necking competition,” says Hill. “What they are doing on criminal justice is wrong and it doesn’t work… we need a serious rethink.”

Coleman has a strong history of supporting LGBT legislation. For the last three sessions he has attempted to pass anti-bullying legislation that would require school districts to report instances of bullying using an enumerated list of motivating characteristics that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, he has also filed legislation to remove the the crime of “homosexual conduct” from the Texas penal code (a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), to equalize age of consent laws in Texas and to add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime law. In the 82nd legislature earlier this year Coleman authored seven pieces of legislation designed to create greater equality for LGBT people, including the first ever filing of legislation to standardize change of gender marker procedures for the transgender community and the first effort to repeal the state’s constitutional prohibition against marriage equality.

Hill recognizes Coleman’s historic contributions, “The incumbent and I agree on a lot of issues,” says Hill, “but we don’t tell young gay people ‘if you work real hard and go to school and do your best you can grow up to have straight friends in Austin who like you.’ No, we tell them ‘if you work hard they can grow up to be Mayor of Houston, or City Supervisor of San Francisco.'”

When asked why the community would be better served by him than Coleman, a 20 year legislative veteran, Hill replies “I understand how government works. A freshman legislator can’t do anything more than irritate, but that’s about all any member of the minority party can do. On that level the incumbent and I are on the same level… I think we need somebody obnoxious [in the legislature] who’s going to purposefully rub the cat hair the wrong direction.”

Since being elected to the legislature for the first time in 1992 Coleman has been unopposed in 5 of his 9 primary reelection bids. No primary challenger to Coleman has pulled more than 21% of the vote.

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MASSACHUSETTS: NOM Files DOMA Amicus Brief With Federal Appeals Court

Joe. My. God.

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Obama DOJ files DOMA defense brief in First Circuit cases

This is no surprise, as the Obama administration announced last year it would defend the Defense of Marriage Act in regards to Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States, which addresses section of the DOMA regarding federal benefits to same-sex married couples. The brief is here. (The Wonk Room):

The Obama administration announced its intention to defend DOMA in October of 2010 and today filed a brief arguing that “DOMA is rationally related to legitimate governmental interests.” The government maintained that Congress enacted the law during an era of upheaval to maintain “uniformity on the federal level” and allow states the flexibility to expand the definition of marriage as they see fit:

By passing DOMA, Congress sought to preserve the status quo understanding of marriage in federal law as limited to opposite-sex couples while preserving the authority of individual states to engage in a period of evaluation of and experience with a new definition of marriage that is open to same-sex couples. Congress could rationally conclude that maintaining the status quo at the federal level during a period of change would allow states that wish to make changes in the legal definition of marriage to retain their inherent prerogative to do so, while permitting others to maintain their existing view, both by declining to authorize same-sex marriages in the first instance under their own laws and by declining to recognize such marriages that are approved under the laws of other states.

At MetroWeekly, Chris Geidner has more.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Breaking: Reid files cloture on DADT and DREAM Act; votes scheduled for Sat.

Movement on DADT repeal is in the air and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not long ago filed cloture on the stand-alone DADT repeal bill passed on Wednesday by the House and the DREAM Act. The cloture vote will be held on Saturday.

For those who need a bit of a primer on this, cue this helpful explanation from John @ Americablog:

Filing for cloture is how you cut off a filibuster. Basically, you file a petition for cloture, you wait two days for it to “ripen,” then you vote on it. If you get 60 votes, cloture is invoked and the legislation can be considered for no more than 30 additional hours, when you have to have a final vote. Thus when you vote for cloture, you vote against a filibuster.

Let’s go to the videotape of Harry Reid (via The Wonk Room and Igor Volsky):

REID: I’m going to file cloture tonight on the DREAM Act, we’re going to have a vote on that Saturday morning fairly early. We’re going to have a cloture vote tonight on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell- oh, not a cloture vote, I’m going to file cloture on it tonight. Those will be sequenced for Saturday, whenever we get to them. Following that, I was told by a number of Republican Senators that they need 6 or 7 days to offer amendment on the START treaty.

UPDATE: Reactions…

Servicemembers United:

“We are grateful to Majority Leader Reid for following through on his promise to schedule a vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session, and we are relieved that he has now committed to doing so well before Christmas. It would have severely threatened all of the momentum that repeal has gained recently if this vote was delayed until after the holidays,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center:

“As Senators consider the forthcoming vote on the stand-alone ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal bill, what matters most is the reality that prejudice is the only justification left for a vote against repeal. The Pentagon’s own research supplements more than twenty studies that show allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly does not undermine military readiness, and that fears about hypothetical problems are groundless. Those who reject prejudice will vote to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and those who embrace prejudice will vote to continue this policy.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Bullied Student Files Suit

Last week, Russell Dickerson, a 19-year-old former student of the Aberdeen School District in Washington state, filed suit against his former school district claiming that the school district should be liable for the hostile educational environment created by bullies who taunted him over his race, sex, and perceived sexual orientation. He asserts that his academic progress was hindered by the bullying. In addition, he claims that his experience in the school district led him to suffer from extreme emotional distress and psychological damage, which resulted in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dickerson asserts that from 2003 until 2009, he was called names, such as “stupid nigger,” “nappy ho,” and “faggot.” Notes were posted on his back calling him a “stupid nigger” and “dog.” Aside from verbal harassment, he was subject to physical harassment in the halls and in the cafeteria, such as pinching, fondling, and spitting. In one incident, three students pushed him to the floor and smashed a raw egg on his head. In addition, Dickerson was subject to other forms of harassment – including the threat of being lynched – after students in the district set up a fake MySpace page that taunted Dickerson because of his race and perceived sexual orientation.

The suit claims that school district officials were aware that Dickerson was being bullied but failed to take actions to address it. One assistant principal recommended that Dickerson change his style of clothing if he wanted to avoid harassment. Another assistant principal suggested that Dickerson refrain from reporting bullying. Nevertheless, Dickerson and his parents repeatedly reported incidents of bullying to district administrators, both verbally and in writing.

The ACLU of Washington is representing the student in the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The suit says that the deliberate indifference to ongoing harassment by Aberdeen School District violated federal law – Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects students from discrimination based on race, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which protects students from discrimination based on sex. The suit also says that the district violated state anti-discrimination law.

Currently, no federal statute explicitly protects students from being discriminated against by schools because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. HRC is working to address this omission in our nation’s laws by lobbying Congress to pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act, a bill introduced this year by Senator Franken and Congressman Polis that prohibits schools from discriminating against public school students on the basis of the student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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SLDN Files DADT Suit

As further pressure on the members of the lame duck Senate, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network today filed a federal lawsuit demanding the reinstatement of three veterans discharged under DADT.

The lawsuit filed in federal district court in San Francisco also seeks to have the ban on openly gay troops declared unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable for any service members. “I don’t feel like I’m going up against the military, I really don’t. I just feel like this is a necessary step for doing away with this policy,” said former Air Force Staff Sergeant Anthony Loverde. “I believe the military, the majority of troops I’ve served with and those who have been studied to death are with us.”

SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis: “This filing is a notice to the Senate and to the U.S. government that if the Senate fails to act in the lame duck session, we are prepared to litigate this aggressively.”

Joe. My. God.

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A&P Files For Bankruptcy

The 151 year-old Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, which operates 400 grocery stores under the names A&P, Food Emporium, Pathmark and others, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company said it will have access to 0 million in debtor-in-possession financing and that all of its stores are fully stocked and open for business. The company said that it determined that it could not complete its turnaround plan without filing for bankruptcy protection. The filing was widely anticipated. The company’s stock price fell more than 67 percent on Friday, and trading was halted in the afternoon. Shares have traded between 86 cents and in the past 52 weeks.

The first A&P store opened in NYC in 1859 and the company remains the dominant grocery chain in the metro area. If my Food Emporium goes under, I’ll have to shop at….Gristedes. Shudder.

Joe. My. God.

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Trans Woman Files Complaint Against DMV

DMV x390 (fair) | ADVOCATE.COMA transgender woman filed a privacy claim Wednesday against the
California Department of Motor Vehicles after one of its workers found
her personal contact information and sent a letter to her home
condemning her gender identity.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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CALIFORNIA: Protect Marriage Files Request For Recusal Of Prop 8 Judge

Protect Marriage has filed a formal request for the recusal of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reindhardt, who is scheduled to be part of the three judge panel hearing the appeal of Proposition 8 on Monday. As I noted yesterday morning, at issue is Reinhardt’s wife and her involvement with the No On 8 campaign via her job with the ACLU.

In papers filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, lawyers for Proposition 8’s supporters said Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned” because his wife heads the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In that role, the judge’s wife, Ramona Ripston, has been an outspoken opponent of Proposition 8 and taken part in legal proceedings to overturn the voter-approved law, the lawyers said. They cited the friend of the court brief the ACLU filed on behalf of the plaintiff’s in the case pending before her husband as an example.

According to the above-linked story, Reinhardt has recused himself from past cases involving the ACLU.

Joe. My. God.

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DOJ Files Opposition to LCR Supreme Court Request to Vacate DADT Stay Order

MetroWeekly reports that the government has responded to the Log Cabin Republican request to vacate the stay that the Ninth Circuit placed on Judge Virginia Phillips's injunction barring enforcement of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell':

Dadt "In a filing at the U.S. Supreme Court this afternoon, the U.S. government, represented by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, asked the court to leave in place the stay of U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips's injunction of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The government's argument would keep DADT in effect while the Log Cabin Republicans v. United States case is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit."

The response was requested from Justice Kennedy when the LCR application was filed.

Argues Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal in the briefing: "It was entirely appropriate for the court of appeals to defer to the considered judgment of senior military leaders that any change in policy must be done in an orderly and careful manner in order to be successful."

Woods Wrote Dan Woods, lead attorney for the Log Cabin Republicans, in a statement:

"We have reviewed the government's opposition to Log Cabin's application to vacate the stay of Judge Phillips's injunction by the Ninth Circuit. In our view, the government's lengthy, detailed, 29-page brief does not address the two key arguments we presented to the Supreme Court.  First, we argued that the premise of the government's position–that it needs time to conduct an orderly process of repealing DADT–is entirely speculative because Congress has not and very well may never repeal DADT; the government's filing today does not address that issue.  Second, we argued that the Ninth Circuit order did not take into account the harm to servicemembers and potential enlistees resulting from the stay; the government's filing today does not respond to that point either.  At this point, all we can do is to look forward to a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court."

Added R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans:

"It is unfortunate the Obama Justice Department has forced the Log Cabin Republicans to go to the Supreme Court to halt this failed policy.  At the same time, President Obama remains far from the front lines of the fight for legislative repeal while commanding his lawyers to zealously defend 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in court.  This week Log Cabin Republicans have conducted meetings with numerous Republican senators potentially in favor of repeal, all of whom are waiting for the President's call.  The White House has been missing in action on Capitol Hill, undermining efforts to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in the final session of this Congress, potentially leaving the judiciary as the only solution for our brave men and women in uniform."

View the brief, AFTER THE JUMP


Towleroad News #gay

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