Laster becomes first out gay man on Houston City Council

Mike Laster

Mike Laster

With 57% of precincts reporting Mike Laster is the presumptive victor in the Houston District J City Council race. Laster, an out gay candidate endorsed by the Victory Fund and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, has a commanding lead with 67% of the vote. His nearest opponent Criselda Romero trails with 22%.

Laster is the first out gay man to be elected to the Houston City Council.

From the Victory Fund website:

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Plan II Honors Program, Mike earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center. While at the Law Center, Mike distinguished himself as the National Vice Chair of the American Bar Association Law Student Division.

Today Mike is an attorney specializing in real estate with the firm of Williams, Birnberg & Andersen, L.L.P. in Houston, where he has practiced for the past thirteen years. From 1989 to 1995, Mike served as a Senior Assistant City Attorney in the Real Estate Division of the City Attorney’s Office, where he handled many aspects of a general real estate and development practice for the city.

—  admin

East coast victories for LGBT candidates

While we’re waiting here in Houston for the results of today’s municipal elections the Victory Fund reports of victories for LGBT candidates on the East coast where polls closed an hour earlier than Texas.

State Del. Adam Ebbin (D-District 30) was elected to Virginia’s state Senate today, making him the Commonwealth’s first openly gay senator.

“I am honored by the trust the voters have showed in me,”  Ebbin said in a statement. “During the campaign, I listened to the voters’ concerns and will work on behalf of the values we all share: improving our public schools, expanding our transit system and cleaning up Virginia’s environment. I will make sure their voices are heard…”

“Alex Morse, a 22-year-old graduate of Brown University, has just been elected mayor of Holyoke, Mass., a city of nearly 40,000 residents near Springfield…”

“Zach Adamson has won his race for city council in Indianapolis, giving the city its first openly LGBT city council member.”

“An incumbent on the Largo, Fla., City Commission who attacked her openly gay opponent over his sexual orientation has lost her reelection bid to him tonight. Michael Smith defeated Mary Gray Black, who has a history of anti-gay and anti-trans activism on the commission.”

—  admin

Queer Bingo at GLBT Community Center

Tanya Hyde

The fabulous Ms. Tanya Hyde

The Houston GLBT Community Center hosts its Queer Bingo on the first Saturday of each month. Hosting this month’s festivities is self proclaimed living legend, and queen of all Montrose, drag performer Tanya Hyde. Queer Bingo benefits the Center’s John Lawrence and Tyrone Garner Scholarship Fund (that’s John Lawrence, of Lawrence v. Texas fame) and other center programs.

Doors open at 4 pm, with games kicking off at 4:30.  In addition to cash prizes for Bingo, the event features fabulous door prizes,  a raffle, and bar service courtesy of Capital Beverage.

“We invite all our community friends to join us for First Saturday Queer Bingo, have fun playing games with their friends, and support scholarships for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender scholars,” Center president Tim Brookover says.  “We have a great time every month as we benefit our scholarship fund and other Center programs.”

Queer Bingo takes place at the GLBT Community Center’s headquarters at the historic Dow School (1900 Kane).

—  admin

LOCAL BRIEFS: AIN poker tourney at the Brick; Bates set for Dallas Black Pride

AIN poker tourney set at the Brick

A charity poker tournament is set for Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Brick, 2525 Wycliff, to benefit AIDS Interfaith Network.

The Dallas Bears and the LGBT poker league Pocket Rockets will co-host the event with the Brick. Miller Lite is the sponsor and play begins at 3 p.m.

It’s free to play but AIN will benefit in a number of ways. The agency will receive a portion of the drink specials sold. Players may buy additional chips, and the Bears will hold a 50/50 raffle.

A cash prize pool of $500 will be awarded and all levels of players are welcome.

Bates set for Dallas Black Pride

Christopher H. Bates will speak at the Dallas Black LGBT Community Summit on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Dallas Marriott City Center Hotel. He is the director of Health and Human Service’s Office of HIV/AIDS Policy.

Bates will discuss the federal government’s response to the high infection rate among young gay African-American men. He has 20 years experience in public health policy and has been with OHAP for more than a decade.

Bates administers funds for the Minority AIDS Initiative and advises the Undersecretary of Health on education, prevention, testing, research, care and treatment strategies. Information is available at DFWPrideMovement.org.

Martin offers program for couples

Randy Martin, LPC, will facilitate an eight-session program for couples, Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. throughout September and October.

The program is based on the theory and practice of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). The first session focuses on the new science of love and what it teaches us. The next seven sessions focus on helping couples shape and use the seven conversations laid out in the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, the developer of EFT.

Couples interested in participating should contact Martin at 214-520-7575. The cost of the program is $500 per couple and includes a copy of the book Hold Me Tight and other necessary materials.

NGPA seeks donations

The National Gay Pilots Association recently awarded $22,000 in scholarships and is seeking donations for future awards to aspiring LGBT aviators.

Since its founding in 1998, the NGPA Education Fund has given 46 awards totaling $139,000. Donations can be made on the group’s website, NGPA.org.

—  John Wright

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Victory Fund Supports Fort Worth’s Burns

JOEL BURNS X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Victory Fund made its first endorsement for 2011 — getting behind
the reelection effort of Joel Burns, the gay Fort Worth city councilman
who in October made an impassioned speech in council chambers on LGBT
youth suicides.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

SLIDESHOW: Victory Fund Brunch NYC

Today I attended the first annual Victory Fund brunch in NYC, where headliner Rep. Barney Frank talked at length about the difficulties we face in the repeal of DADT and even getting ENDA to a vote. Comedian Alec Mapa hosted, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn spoke, anti-Quinn activists protested outside, and a literal who’s who of political homorati mingled over mimosas.

In the house: all the gay NYC council members, activist and event co-chair David Mixner, activist Corey Johnson, early DADT activist Joe Steffan, comedian Kate Clinton and her partner Urvashi Vaid, Reichen Lehmkuhl, actor Jack Noseworthy, former GLAAD head Neil Giuliano, and a boatload of probably similarly famous people that I don’t know. I’ll let you name them in the slideshow below, since I can’t. Lots of ridiculously handsome men within. Full-screen versions of the below photos are here.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

HRC: Following The Money, Part 2 – Compensation And Fund Raising

This is the second in a series of articles. The introduction to the series can be found at:

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/17251/#223954 


The available tax data allows us to see what some of the key players at HRC are getting paid. However, it leaves a lot of unanswered questions about where the bulk of the money reported as compensation expense is going.

 

 

 

 

 

The data for this article was taken from the IRS form 990 filed by HRC, Inc. for the year 2008. The entire form can be viewed at this link.

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2009/521/243/2009-521243457-05555017-9O.pdf

Compensation

HRC, Inc is the only one of the three companies that is reporting compensation expense, so it appears that all staff are managed from there.

The summary income statement reports a total compensation expense of ,540,658. This outlay represents 30% of their total revenue for the year. That makes it their single most significant expense category. They are required to provide specific disclosure of compensation for certain key and highly compensated employees. Here is the information provided in that disclosure.

 

 

That leaves quite a lot of compensation expense unaccounted for. In the more detailed income statement that is required in another part of the form they report  a lump figure of ,604,722 for other salaries and wages. There is no further detail as to what is included in that figure.

Looking at the staff page on the HRC web site which appears here:

http://www.hrc.org/about_us/2570.htm

We see a total of 33 people listed by name. Of course this information is for 2010 rather than 2008. One assumes that there are other people performing more menial duties such as receptionist, accounting clerks, etc. I haven't been able to find any information about the total number of employees.

So what do we make of this 6.6 million dollars? If this were all about people who are getting paid less than the 6 figure crowd listed above we could try assuming an average salary of k. At that rate it would take troops of about 130 additional people to cover that amount. Does it take that many people to put out the hors d'oeuvres for the cocktail parties?

 

 

Fundraising

A very basic index for evaluating charitable organizations is the percentage of the donated funds that actually go to supporting the activities for which they were donated as opposed going to the cost of raising the funds and administrative overhead. This is an area that the IRS focuses on. They require two major pieces of reporting, the cost of contracts with professional fund raisers and the cost of fund raising events.

Here is HRC's data for the professional fundraisers.

 

The email and direct mail solicitations appear to have been fairly efficient. However, the member acquisition endeavors would seem to leave a bit to be desired. The caper with Telefund, Inc. looks like a real dog.

Here is the summary statement for their fundraising events. This would include the dinners and cocktail parties.

 

 

 

That represents about a 50% net income on cost outlays. I would not be inclined to raise any questions about that relationship.

There was one other large reported expense that I found interesting. They spent ,123,902 attending conferences and meetings. That sounds like an awful lot of boring speeches to listen to. Without more detailed information it would be difficult to really evaluate that.

The next installment in the series will examine political contributions.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Alliance Defense Fund: Loves A.G. refusals in Central time, not so much in Pacific

We’ve already posted a lengthy take on why it’s disingenuous for the Alliance Defense Fund and supporters to treat domestic partnerships one way in California and another way in Wisconsin. Now let’s look at another issue related to that matter: The fact that that state’s Republican attorney general, J.B Van Hoolen, is refusing to represent his state law in court because he finds it unconstitutional.

What are we hearing all the time out of CA? That both state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) are out-of-line because they have chosen to take a stand against what they (and a federal district judge) perceive to be an unconstitutional slighting of gay and lesbian citizens’ civil rights. Both men have refused to defend Prop 8 in court. And this little fact has made the anti-equality side nothing short of apoplectic. 6A00D8341C503453Ef01156F9Fc93B970CHere’s ADF attorney Austin Nimocks speaking recently to “Point of View” radio:

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: 8/18/10 [Point of View Radio]

But yet now here we have the ADF and Wisconsin Family Action filing suit against the Badger State’s domestic partnership law, and we have an A.G. who has pointedly refused to defend the legislatively-enacted D.P. registry (Gov. Doyle, the Secretary of the WI Dept. of health Services, and the State Registrar of Vital Statistic are the listed defendants). And yet there’s not *one peep* about the A.G. supposedly shirking his duties. Not one mention of Van Hollen’s political stripes or aspirations (which decidedly bend towards socially conservative), the way there have been with gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. It’s as if Van Hollen’s controversial decision either never happened, or is totally okay since it’s the anti-LGBT side he’s benefitting.

In fact, both the ADF and Julaine Appling (the lead plaintiff in the case in the ADF’s suit) have applauded Van Hollen’s decision:

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen — who ordinarily would defend a duly-enacted law — announced Friday he will not defend the state’s domestic-partner law from a legal challenge brought by a pro-family group.



Julaine Appling, chief executive officer of Wisconsin Family Action, said Van Hollen took a strong position when he said he would not disregard the constitution or the will of the people by defending the registry.

“What J.B. Van Hollen was saying was that his oath of office is to defend the constitution,” she said, “not the Legislature and not the governor.”



Jim Campbell, legal counsel for ADF, said he hopes the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes note of Van Hollen’s position.

“We believe that it’s very clear here. The people of Wisconsin said that they do not want the government creating anything that is substantially similar to marriage, and that is exactly what they’ve done here,” he said.

Wisconsin Attorney General Will Not Defend Domestic Partnerships [Focus on the Family]

And we, Mr. Campell, hope the United States Supreme Court takes note of Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzengger’s positions! After all, their stands are actually rooted in principle, not discriminatory politics.

***

*Note: The WI Supreme Court ultimately did not “take note,” like Campell wanted, as that judicial body refused the case. The current suit was filed in the Dane County Circuit Court

***

**EARLIER: Alliance Defense Fund: Loves domestic partnerships in Pacific time, not so much in Central [G-A-Y]




Good As You

—  John Wright

Alliance Defense Fund: Loves A.G. refusals in Central time, not so much in Pacific

We’ve already posted a lengthy take on why it’s disingenuous for the Alliance Defense Fund and supporters to treat domestic partnerships one way in California and another way in Wisconsin. Now let’s look at another issue related to that matter: The fact that that state’s Republican attorney general, J.B Van Hoolen, is refusing to represent his state law in court because he finds it unconstitutional.

What are we hearing all the time out of CA? That both state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) are out-of-line because they have chosen to take a stand against what they (and a federal district judge) perceive to be an unconstitutional slighting of gay and lesbian citizens’ civil rights. Both men have refused to defend Prop 8 in court. And this little fact has made the anti-equality side nothing short of apoplectic. 6A00D8341C503453Ef01156F9Fc93B970CHere’s ADF attorney Austin Nimocks speaking recently to “Point of View” radio:

(click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: 8/18/10 [Point of View Radio]

But yet now here we have the ADF and Wisconsin Family Action filing suit against the Badger State’s domestic partnership law, and we have an A.G. who has pointedly refused to defend the legislatively-enacted D.P. registry (Gov. Doyle, the Secretary of the WI Dept. of health Services, and the State Registrar of Vital Statistic are the listed defendants). And yet there’s not *one peep* about the A.G. supposedly shirking his duties. Not one mention of Van Hollen’s political stripes or aspirations (which decidedly bend towards socially conservative), the way there have been with gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. It’s as if Van Hollen’s controversial decision either never happened, or is totally okay since it’s the anti-LGBT side he’s benefitting.

In fact, both the ADF and Julaine Appling (the lead plaintiff in the case in the ADF’s suit) have applauded Van Hollen’s decision:

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen — who ordinarily would defend a duly-enacted law — announced Friday he will not defend the state’s domestic-partner law from a legal challenge brought by a pro-family group.



Julaine Appling, chief executive officer of Wisconsin Family Action, said Van Hollen took a strong position when he said he would not disregard the constitution or the will of the people by defending the registry.

“What J.B. Van Hollen was saying was that his oath of office is to defend the constitution,” she said, “not the Legislature and not the governor.”



Jim Campbell, legal counsel for ADF, said he hopes the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes note of Van Hollen’s position.

“We believe that it’s very clear here. The people of Wisconsin said that they do not want the government creating anything that is substantially similar to marriage, and that is exactly what they’ve done here,” he said.

Wisconsin Attorney General Will Not Defend Domestic Partnerships [Focus on the Family]

And we, Mr. Campell, hope the United States Supreme Court takes note of Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzengger’s positions! After all, their stands are actually rooted in principle, not discriminatory politics.

***

*Note: The WI Supreme Court ultimately did not “take note,” like Campell wanted, as that judicial body refused the case. The current suit was filed in the Dane County Circuit Court

***

**EARLIER: Alliance Defense Fund: Loves domestic partnerships in Pacific time, not so much in Central [G-A-Y]




Good As You

—  John Wright