BREAKING: Pentagon to certify DADT repeal

Secretary Panetta

Reports are coming in from sources including the Wall Street Journal and Fox News that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen are going to announce Friday that they are ready to certify repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Once they have signed off on repeal, the measure goes to President BarackObama for his signature, and he will send it back to Congress. Then there is a 60-day waiting period before repeal is officially implemented.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, issued a statement shortly after 6 p.m. Central time today saying the Pentagon’s certification of repeal is “is welcomed by gay and lesbian service members who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long.”

Sarvis added: “The troops and their commanders are ready. Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead. The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’  should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”

But Sarvis also warned closeted servicemembers that it’s not safe to come out yet. SLDN has posted a warning to lesbian and gay servicemembers here. He also advised LGBT servicemembers with questions to call the SLDN hotline at 202-328-3244, ext. 100, to speak to a staff attorney.

—  admin

Karger seeking to be included in CNN debate

Fred Karger

Fred Karger, the openly gay candidate seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president, is trying to get invited to the June 13 CNN debate in Manchester, N.H.

The first debate was held in South Carolina and was sponsored by Fox, which chose not to invite Karger because the network claimed he didn’t meet its criteria. One requirement was that each participant poll at least 1 percent in five polls. But Karger does poll that high in polls by Zogby, Fox News, CNN, ABC/Washington Post and CNN.

Among Karger’s other claims to legitimacy are the fact that he has raised four times the minimum amount seen as the Federal Election Commission’s threshold to be considered a serious candidate.

Karger was the first to run statewide commercials in New Hampshire. He was the first to be interviewed on BBC’s HardTalk. He has strong student support. In a New Hampshire straw poll, he beat Mitt Romney by 2 percent.

Karger says he’s the only moderate running and claims to have more political experience than any of the other candidates. Karger worked for Ronald Reagan beginning with his first campaign.

Karger wrote a letter to CNN and co-sponsors WMUR-TV and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

“I have yet to receive an invitation,” he said.

Unlike Fox, which made its eligibility requirements public and still excluded Karger even though he met them, CNN isn’t disclosing them. If he’s not included, we’ll never officially know that CNN just doesn’t want to include the gay guy with moderate views who can embarrass the rest of the fine Republican field.

—  David Taffet

That ’70s musical

WE WILL SURVIVE | Doralee (Diana DeGarmo), Violet (Dee Hoty) and Judy (Mamie Parris) take on the boss in ‘9 to 5: The Musical.’

Office politics and country music combine for ‘9 to 5,’ a Dolly’d-up women’s lib throwback

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor

The plot of 9 to 5: The Musical hews closely to the film: Three working girls (we called them “girls” back then) — experienced professional secretary Violet (Dee Hoty), typing pool bombshell Doralee (Diana DeGarmo) and a workforce newcomer, recent divorcee Judy (Mamie Parris) — endure the butt slaps, passed-by promotions and office gossip endemic to the “man’s world” of big business. They were stooped over from touching the glass ceiling before we had that term.

When lowlife CEO Mr. Hart (Joseph Mahowald) threatens to have them all fired, they kidnap him and stage a coup-d’etat, running the company via memo the way they want it run. Of course it is a smashing success, with employees and shareholders. Of course they keep their jobs and Mr. Hart gets his. Of course, of course, of course.

That’s actually kind of a good thing. Many stage adaptations of movies swing wildly away from the source material, so this is a comforting, surprisingly tight rendering of a well-worn plot, interspersed with a variety of Dolly Parton-penned songs, several with distinct country flair (but not all). Dolly even makes a video appearance as the narrator. 9 to 5 is a perfectly palatable, even enjoyable musical comedy, a lightweight feminist screed against big business that wouldn’t offend anyone who doesn’t have a talk show or Fox News or who is not named Trump.

What the show isn’t is a standout in any measurable way. It could be an office version of The Producers, but it lacks memorable hooks and enough punch to hit a home run.

DeGarmo flexed some acting muscle, affecting a Betty Boopish voice that sounds more like Butters from South Park than Dolly clone, and as American Idol loyalists know, she can sing. It’s Parris, though, who gets the 11-o’clock number, “Get Out and Stay Out,” an anthemic power ballad that rivals “I Will Survive” for sheer defiance.

But Hoty, a Broadway star, underwhelms in what is the de facto leading role. She’s all glum sarcasm and self-pitying, long-suffering smugness. She and the other leads have a ball on the Act 1 closer, “Shine Like the Sun,” but along with Mahowald as the overdrawn villain, she’s a disappointment.

So is the set. “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap,” Dolly Parton is fond of saying about her signature trailer-trash-won-the-Lotto look of boobs, bleach and bangles. On that basis, I can only imagine that the scenery — mostly comprised of rotating-paneled columns that look like port-a-potties on rollers — must have cost a fortune.

For Dolly fans, hearing an album’s worth of new songs (even sung by someone other than her) and the recorded cameo may be worth it alone, but, like the company dental plan, it leaved you wanting more for what you’re paying.














This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

NBC does its part to save us from Trump

Donald Trump

This morning NBC announced its new fall line-up, which includes The Celebrity Apprentice. The show’s host, Donald Trump, announced he’s not running for president during NBC’s “upfronts,” the announcement of the new season.

Trump said the decision wasn’t easily made, “especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.” However, Trump never seemed serious. In earlier statements, he made his priorities clear when he said he would make no announcement before the end of the Celebrity Apprentice season because of his contract with NBC.

Since the White House Correspondents Dinner where President Barack Obama and Seth Meyers made Trump the butt of many of the evening’s jokes, Trump has lost 10 points in most polls. Ratings on his show plummeted. Before Trump’s announcement, NBC said (threatened?) that his show could continue with a different host.

—  David Taffet

Dark horse Karger serious about presidential bid

Fred Karger speaks during the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention at the Hilton Anatole on April 29. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Openly gay candidate has Republican political experience that dates back to Gerald Ford and Reagan’s ’84 campaign

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

Fred Karger made history when he became not only the first gay candidate to register a run for the White House with the Federal Elections Commission, but also the first Jewish person ever to pursue the Republican nomination.

While he’s proud to be both, during a recent visit to Dallas Karger said he wants to “put the gay thing behind me.”

He said he looks forward to an article about his run for president that identified him as simply a presidential candidate rather than the gay presidential candidate.

Karger was in Dallas for the national Log Cabin Republicans convention held at the Anatole Hotel last weekend. He addressed the group at the opening meeting on Friday, April 29.

Karger was in Dallas looking for Log Cabin support, saying he wants them “to go out on a limb for me.”

While Karger understands his chances of receiving the Republican nomination are slim, he said he is running a serious campaign, and he hopes to be the first presidential candidate to receive an endorsement from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Karger said he plans to participate in the debates, hoping to use his time to temper the anti-gay rhetoric of his party’s other presidential hopefuls.

And in a way, his campaign is a grand “It Gets Better” video. He said his visits to gay straight alliances and meetings with college groups around the country encouraged him to run so he could show LGBT youth that they can achieve anything. In his press release announcing his candidacy, Karger dedicated the day to the six gay teens who took their lives last fall.

Since forming his campaign committee a few weeks ago, Karger said he has made headway in the polls. In a Fox News poll out last week, Karger got 1 percent. That’s ahead of Buddy Roemer, Rudy Giuliani and Haley Barbour, all considered serious possibilities.

The poll was important to Karger, who wanted to be included in the first Republican, debate, sponsored by Fox News and held in South Carolina on Thursday night. To be included, he needed to be at 1 percent in five polls, to have a presidential committee or exploratory committee and pay a $25,000 entrance fee.

At this point, Karger is the only Republican with a campaign committee who is registered with the FEC. Several other candidates are in the exploratory stage.

He has ranked high enough in several polls, including two by Huffington Post. In a March 31 Saint Anselm College Republicans straw poll he finished first, ahead of Mitt Romney, and with three times the votes of Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty or Ron Paul, and 10 times the votes of Mike Huckabee.

However, the Republican Party excluded Karger while allowing candidates like Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Karger said the Saint Anselm poll is significant to him because that school is in New Hampshire, the state with the first primary.

Karger spent his career as a political strategist and his strategy in this election is to take the first primary and caucus states — Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which legally recognize same-sex marriage. Both are also heavily independent — 42 percent in New Hampshire and 37 percent in Iowa.

Karger said that people have left both parties in those states, but mostly the Republican Party because his party has moved too far to the right.

Karger has the background to be taken as a credible candidate by Republicans. He ran Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign, and he worked with Lee Atwater on the Willie Horton ads that helped propel George H.W. Bush into the White House.

Karger was also part of the Gerald Ford campaign committee.

Dolphin Group, Karger’s political consulting firm, has worked on hundreds of local and state elections for Republicans around the country for more than 30 years, he said.

After selling Dolphin Group, Karger became a different type of political activist.

When California’s Proposition 8 got on the ballot challenging same-sex marriage, Karger founded Californians Against Hate.

He initiated boycotts, including one targeting the Hyatt in San Diego whose owner was a major funder of Prop 8. It cost the company $1 million per month, according to the hotel’s own estimate.

Karger investigated the power of the Mormon Church in influencing votes, and after a 19-month investigation, the church was found guilty on 13 counts of campaign reporting violations.

That was the first time the California Fair Political Practices Commission had found a religion guilty of election irregularities.

“No one has gone against NOM like I have,” Karger said.

Karger noted that he battled Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage and helped uncover their disregard for Maine’s election laws. NOM was ordered to follow election law and disclose its political contributors.

“Maggie Gallagher has blood on her hands,” Karger said, blaming the hate from her organization for the deaths of gay teens.

He called her disgusting and said he wonders why, if she believes in traditional marriage so much, she doesn’t wear a wedding ring.

“She a walking time bomb,” Karger said of Gallagher’s behavior.

Karger hardly sounds like a typical Republican when he discusses LGBT equality issues and he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election. So he explained why he still calls himself a Republican.

“I grew up with Nelson Rockefeller,” he said. “I still believe in the principles of the Republican Party,” such as “keeping government out of our lives.”

And, he said, staying out of our lives includes allowing a woman the right to choose.

“I’m strong on national defense,” Karger added. “I’m a strong law and order guy.”

Rockefeller is best known as the governor who built New York’s state university system, and education is a top priority for Karger.

Karger said he wants to bring back that GOP of yesterday.

“I know there are a lot of dissatisfied centrists,” he said, and that’s who he’s appealing to.

He said he has planned his attack on his Republican opponents.

He’s going after Romney’s ties to the Mormon Church.

Just as Mike Dukakis was vulnerable on the release of Willie Horton, a prisoner who committed violent felonies after his parole, he said Huckabee should be too. Huckabee released Maurice Clemmons who later killed four police officers.

“Huckabee never showed remorse,” he said.

And without fanfare, presidential candidate Karger put his birth certificate on his website. He said he figures Donald Trump would find other things to attack him on, so why give him this one.

While running, he especially wants gay youth to hear his message.

“Come out to family, friends, coworkers,” he said.

—  John Wright

Trans history unearthed in Prague, but existence of LGBTs in early cultures should be no surprise

Copper Age grave near Prague appears to be that of a trans woman.

Reports have surfaced this week on several websites with news of a grave unearthed in the Czech Republic of what archeologists are saying appears to be a transgender woman.

The grave, found in a suburb of Prague, contained a skeleton that, while anatomically male, was buried in the traditional manner of a woman. The UK LGBT news site Pink News reports that the skeleton and grave are thought to be about 5,000 years old, dating from between 2900 and 2500 B.C., and is from the Corded Ware culture of the Copper Age.

Archaeologists say that males from that era are usually found buried facing west, with their weapons interred with them. But this skeleton was buried in the manner reserved for women: facing east and surrounded by domestic jugs.

Pink News quotes Kamila Remišová, the head of the research team, as saying: “From history and ethnology, we know that when a culture had strict burial rules they never made mistakes with these sort of things.”

—  admin

DOMA author Bob Barr to keynote Log Cabin Republicans convention in Dallas next month

Former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Georgia

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who authored the Defense of Marriage Act but has since come out in favor of its repeal, will be keynote speaker at Log Cabin Republicans’ National Convention in Dallas next month, according to a press release from the group.

The convention is set for April 28 through May 1 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, and Barr will speak at the National Dinner on April 30.

“Congressman Barr is living proof that Republicans are becoming more inclusive, and doing so for conservative reasons,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, in a press release. “As a freshman member of Congress in 1996, Barr wrote DOMA.  He has since come to the conclusion that ‘DOMA’s language reflects one-way federalism’ and that the law ‘has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions,’ contrary to the traditional Republican respect for states’ rights, and that DOMA should be repealed.

“Barr’s principled stand shows what a real evolution on marriage looks like today, and Log Cabin Republicans look forward to hearing from him on this timely issue in Dallas,” Cooper said. “As evidenced by the last election, in which gay and lesbian support for Republicans nearly doubled and independent voters helped sweep a GOP majority into office, inclusion can and does win. Log Cabin will continue to work to expand the base of the Republican Party, all the while gaining new allies in the fight for freedom.”

According to the press release, other special guests at the 2011 National Convention will include FOX News contributor Margaret Hoover and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

—  John Wright

Tune & terror

‘TORTURE’ MEMO | The Bush Administration gets a kick in the pants in Christopher Durang’s hilarious absurdist comedy.

Tommy taps and a brown guy gets the 3rd degree in 2 disparate shows

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

Christopher Durang is a no-holds-barred kind of playwright: You either give yourself over to his scathingly satiric absurdist romps entirely, or you sit there, nose firmly out of joint, dreading every outrageous moment of it.

I rather expected the audience at opening night of Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them to head out in droves come intermish. After all, this is the space that usually houses the agreeable romantic musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Torture bandies about the F word with and makes fun of George W. Bush. It shows a half-naked brown man being savagely beaten by a gun-toting Republican. This is not what you’d call “Highland Park-Friendly Theater.”

But I counted few defections in the well-attended debut. That’s enough to give you hope not only for theater, but for humanity.

Durang’s play — the title alone is a delicious bit of nonsense — probably has a limited shelf-life, with time-sensitive references to “shadow government,” Tom Stoppard’s Russian play cycle, Terry Schiavo and “torture memos.” 9/11 may remain a presence in our lives for decades, like Pearl Harbor, but the details surrounding it begin to fade into memory. Torture helps preserve them. It’s a comedy, but an angry comedy, with political history taking center stage.

Durang traffics in “types:” The dithery Leave It to Beaver-esque mom (Brandi Andrade), the Right Wing gun loving Fox News zombie (Terry Vandivort), the volatile Middle Eastern (Nas Medhi) who, even if he isn’t a terrorist, acts like one. (Perhaps his most subversive attack on the Neo-Con ideal of America is this line: “I believe food, electricity and housing should be free.”) None of them are completely innocent, but there’s no doubting Durang’s point-of-view: He’s pushing buttons like crazy. It’s an equally offensive comedy that makes you rot against more than root for.

It’s all pretty genius.

And all pretty well played, too. Lee Jamison hasn’t had a chance to do much comedy, what with serious turns in Equus and Closer to Heaven, but she’s excellent at it, with the timing about open physicality of a young Kim Cattrall. She plays Felicity, a flighty party girl who drunkenly marries Zamir (Medhi), who claims to be “Irish” but is in fact from a Muslim country.

Felicity takes Zamir home to meet her parents (Andrade, Vandivort); dad immediately suspects him of being a terrorist and sets up his own Abu Ghraib-like interrogation cell in his “butterfly room” to squeeze a plot out of him — and possibly launch World War III. “Even if our intelligence is wrong, it’s good foreign policy to bomb [some] countries,” dad declares. You can practically hear those words coming out of Dick Cheney’s mouth.

Although Durang’s use of repetition has a musicality to it, like a coda, the ending, which tries to rewrite everything that came before it, falls flat, and some of the scene changes get awkward. But a few quibbles don’t undercut the strengths of the performances by Jamison, Andrade and the very sexy Medhi. If loving a crazy Muslim is wrong, I don’t want to be right.


HAPPY TUNE | Native Texan Tommy Tune recounts a storied career in his one-man showcase.

Across town you won’t find a less similar show, but one just as easy to recommend. Tommy Tune just turned 72, but to watch the six-and-a-half-foot-tall Texan glide across the Fair Park Music Hall stage, sharing lessons about tap and life from his 50-year-career in show business (which he launched on the very same stage), you’d swear he was still just a kid hoping to make it big with his next audition. There’s a twinkle in his eye that age cannot dim. He’s a living legend of Broadway, and you can feel the history ooze from his every pour.

His showcase performance, Steps in Time, is basically a one-man show that traces his career from local chorus boy to the most honored performer-director in Tony history (nine awards and counting in four categories). You’re fully aware, even before he sings a song with the word “old-fashioned” in the verse, that he’s exactly that: A throwback to the big, splashy book musicals of the past. You can’t really imagine him directing Spring Awakening.

Except you kinda can. Tune sings a Green Day song in this show, arranged as a more traditional Broadway ballad, and while his theatricality man seem old-school, it’s also tremendously effective: Tune’s sentimental reflections on lost loves, on the greatest dancer he ever worked with (Charles “Honi” Coles) and even his post-encore exhibit are almost corny, but so gosh-durned sincere that they bring a tear to your eye. The show’s simplicity serves its star well: Tommy, and his lanky frame and his stories for 90 minutes. All history should be this entertaining.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Glenn Beck equates Reform Jews to radical Islam over support of Obama’s DOMA position

Glenn Beck

After the Obama administration decided to drop its defense of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism praised the move.

In reaction, Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck compared Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism in North America, to radical Islam.

The RAC, a social action organization affiliated with Reform Judaism, wrote, “The announcement by the Obama Administration, through the Justice Department, that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage act is as welcome as it is overdue. Now is the time for Congress to repeal the discriminatory law once and for all.”

Beck’s anti-Semitic response was: “Reform rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way… radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at Reform Judaism, it is more about politics.”

But most mainstream Jewish groups supported the Obama administration’s decision.

—  David Taffet

Navy says ensign from E. Texas suffered unfair retaliation over anti-gay harassment complaint

A while back we told you about Steve Crowston, the Navy ensign from East Texas who accused his commanders of anti-gay harassment after he received a list of potential call signs that included “Romo’s Bitch,” “Gay Boy,” “Fagmeister” and “Cowgirl.”

Over the weekend, Crowston sent along word that he’d won a victory in his case.

According to Fox News, the Navy’s Inspector General has ruled that Crowston suffered unfair retaliation after filing a complaint about the harassment, in the form of a bad performance evaluation:

Crowston’s complaint named Commander Liam Bruen, 42, who gave the 37-year-old ensign “the “the worst performance appraisal” in his 16 years of service.

The Navy now says at least one of Crowston’s complaints has been confirmed.

“Department of Navy Naval IG substantiates the allegation that the then commanding officer of VFA 136 gave Crowston an unfavorable fitness report in reprisal for a sexual harassment and hostile work environment complaint he filed,” Navy spokesman Lt. Myers Vasquez told The Navy did not name Bruen, but has independently confirmed his identity.

Vasquez said the department has forwarded its findings on to Bruen’s commanding officer, who will decide what, if any, corrective action to take.

Former Judge Advocate General Jeff Addicott says Bruen’s commander will have little choice but to take strong action.

The story goes on to say that the Navy’s investigation of Crowston’s original complaint is ongoing, and no action will be taken against Bruen until it’s complete.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement we just received from Crowston:

“I’m very pleased to see the system get it right with the reprisal investigation. The system needs to get it right the 2nd time around regarding the anti-gay harassment. It should not take this much effort to have what was clearly anti-gay harassment and hazing by senior Navy leadership be substantiated. I hope my efforts in seeking justice will inspire others out there who have been discriminated against because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Adults can not continue to allow anti-gay harassment and bigotry to occur. We, as adults, must show our children that they are individuals who are allowed to live in America without being prejudiced against, retaliated against, or harassed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Hatred is not okay.”

—  John Wright