TEXAS MARRIAGE UPDATE: Equality Texas calls on DeBeauvoir to start issuing marriage licenses

Dana DeBeauvoir

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir

A day after a Travis County probate judge issued a ruling striking down Texas’ ban on legal recognition of same-sex marriages, Equality Texas today (Wednesday, Feb. 18) is calling on Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately.

But according to a spokeswoman in DeBeauvoir’s office, the county clerk will not issue those marriage licenses until she gets the go-ahead from the federal courts.

DeBeauvoir had previously said she was ready to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as soon as the courts would allow. After Judge Guy Herman issued his ruling Tuesday, DeBeauvoir said she needed to meet with Herman and county lawyers to “find out if there is anything I can do [in terms of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples]. Right now, I think it’s no, but we are checking.”

Chuck-Smith

Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith

But Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said today that Herman’s ruling makes marriage equality the law in Travis County. “The law in Travis County now allows for marriage equality. Equality Texas calls upon the county clerk to stand with us — on the right side of history,” Smith said.

The written statement issued by Equality Texas also noted: “Just as the Supreme Court may issue a marriage ruling this summer that applies to all 50 states, and just as the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals may issue a marriage ruling any day now that applies to the 5th Circuit, Judge Herman has issued a ruling that has the effect of law in Travis County.”

The spokeswoman in DeBeauvoir’s office, who identified herself as Angela Vallejo, said today that “nothing has changed” since the county clerk’s statement yesterday. “We have to wait for the federal courts” to settle the question, she said. “As soon as they approve it, I am sure we will begin issuing the licenses.”

Getting a license in Travis County

If — or rather, let’s say when — DeBeauvoir’s office begins issuing licenses to same-sex couples, here are a few rules you need to know:

• The Travis County Clerk’s Office is located at 5501 Airport Blvd. in Austin.

• The cost to get a marriage license is $81 if you pay cash, $84 if you pay with a credit card. Checks are not accepted.

• Both parties have to present a valid ID; both parties have to know their Social Security numbers, and both parties must be at least 18 years old. (Those under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them to give permission.)

• Marriage licenses expire 90 days after they are issued.

• Those obtaining marriage licenses have to wait 72 hours to get married, unless they have a waiver from the court.

The status of marriage equality in the courts

Herman’s ruling came as part of an estate fight in which Austin resident Sonemaly Phrasavath is seeking to have her eight-year relationship to Stella Powell designated as a common-law marriage. Powell died last summer of colon cancer, and after her death, her siblings attempted to step in to claim her estate.

According to the Equality Texas statement issued today, Herman’s ruling finds “that the restrictions on marriage in the Texas Family Code and in the Texas Constitution that restrict marriage to the union of a man and a woman and prohibit marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional because the restrictions violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Contrary to [DeBeauvoir’s] position previously stated in the media, this ruling in fact allows her to immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Travis County,” the statement declares.

“Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir previously stated she would be happy to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once the law allows for it.” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said.

Herman’s ruling yesterday came a year, to the month, after U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in federal court that the Texas same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. Garcia declined plaintiffs’ request late last year to lift the stay on that order and allow same-sex marriages to begin in Texas. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on that case and two others — one from Louisiana and one from Mississippi — on Jan. 9, and could rule in that case any day. Plaintiffs in the Texas case last week asked the Fifth Circuit to lift the stay allow gay and lesbian couples to begin marrying in Texas right away.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on four marriage equality cases out of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in April, and to issue a ruling in June. The court is widely expected, as this time, to strike down all same-sex marriage bans in the U.S.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Senate confirms Botticelli as ONDCP director

Michael Botticelli

Michael Botticelli

The U.S. Senate has confirmed, on a vote of 92-0, Michael Botticelli as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Botticelli, who is openly gay, is the first ONDCP director who is in long-term substance abuse recovery, recently having marked his 26th year in recovery.

Botticelli said: “I am honored by the confidence placed in me by the president and Congress to direct this nation’s drug policy. There are millions of Americans — including myself — who are in successful long-term recovery. Our stories can fundamentally change the way our nation views people with a substance use disorder, which is a disease needing medical treatment like any other disease. As director, I will continue to advance a science-based drug policy to reduce drug use and its consequences through a balanced approach to public health and public safety.”

Botticelli had served as deputy director of National Drug Control Policy since November 2012, but has had more that 20 years experience working with people struggling with substance abuse. He previously worked as director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and he has served in a variety of leadership roles for the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors.

He was also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and has also co-authored numerous articles on substance abuse.

Botticelli was the first recipient of the annual Ramstad/Kennedy National Award for Outstanding Leadership in Promoting Addiction Recovery. In 2012, he was received the Service Award from the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Siena College and a Master of Education degree from St. Lawrence University.

Botticelli and his husband have been a couple since 1995 and have been married since 2009.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Supreme Court chief justice pledges to refuse the tyranny of SCOTUS

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore this week issued a declaration pledging to ignore any federal court rulings on marriage equality — including rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court — that he doesn’t like. The statement came after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade (appointed by President George W. Bush, by the way), ruled in favor of marriage equality in two separate cases since last Friday, Jan. 23.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy MooreMoore calls such rulings “tyranny.”

TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com reports that in a letter addressed to Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bently, Moore wrote: “As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. If we are to preserve that ‘reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’ then we must act to oppose such tyranny!”

Moore claimed that the institution of marriage is being destroyed by “federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution.” He also advised the governor that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples “would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama,” and claimed that Alabama is not bound by decisions of federal district or appellate courts.

Sounds like Chief Justice Moore attended the Mike Huckabee School of Law. But the Alabama Republican might want to take a refresher course on exactly how this whole state/federal/constitution/supreme court thing actually works, focusing especially on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

But then, I guess we really can’t expect all that much from Republican Chief Justice Moore. After all, he is the same man who was removed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary from his seat as Alabama’s chief justice in 2003 when he refused to remove a stone monument of the 10 Commandments from the Alabama judicial building. The fine people of the state re-elected him chief justice in 2012, bless their hearts.

Last year, Moore went on a cross-country speaking tour to warn folks that same-sex marriage a devilish plot to destroy to America. Also last year, Moore went to Mississippi to speak to the anti-choice group Pastors For Life where he attacked marriage equality and declared that the First Amendment applies only to Christians. And in 2012, Moore told everybody who would listen during his campaign for chief justice that same-sex marriage is not about equality for lesbians and gays but an evil plan to destroy the God-ordained institution of marriage.

—  Tammye Nash

Obama uses ‘lesbian,’ ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ in SOTU for the first time ever

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President Barack Obama

Tonight wasn’t the first time that President Barack Obama has mentioned LGBT rights in his State of the Union Address; last year he took a brief moment to reiterate his commitment to LGBT rights around the world. He was the first to use the word “gay” in a State of the Union Address in 2010 when he talked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

But the 2015 State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, Jan. 20 did mark an historic event for the LGBT community: For the first time ever in a State of the Union Address, a U.S. president used the words “bisexual” and “transgender.” UPDATE: I just discovered this is apparently the first time the word “lesbian” has been used in a State of the Union speech, too.

The historic moment came near the end of the president’s speech, when he said that Americans “condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

The president on Tuesday also called the ongoing battle for marriage equality “a story of freedom across our country” and “a civil right.” And he said that Americans now “value the dignity and worth” of gay people.

—  Tammye Nash

Congrats to Amy and Kelly — and all the other Florida newlyweds

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Florida newlyweds Amy and Kelly

My friends Amy and Kelly were among the 30 Florida couples tapped to receive their marriage license immediately after midnight Jan. 5 — so, on Jan. 6 — when the stay expired on Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling declaring the Florida marriage equality ban unconstitutional. Because of legal wrangling over to whom Hinkle’s order applied, the Orlando county clerk guaranteed only 30 marriage licenses at first.

As it turned out, the stay on a second pro-marriage-equality ruling was lifted on Jan. 5, and Hinkle issued an order making it clear that his ruling applied to everyone in every Florida county. So Amy and Kelly and the other 29 couples were not the first to get their licenses and exchange vows. But that didn’t make their ceremony any less touching and wonderful.

The CENTER — LGBT Community Center of Central Florida hosted a wedding for the 30 couples getting their licenses Jan. 6 in Orlando, and as Amy said on Facebook, she and Kelly never expected to be able to get married in such style. She has given me permission to share this photo of them, above, and this video, below, of the mass wedding. In the video, Amy and Kelly are the first couple in the procession, and they are both wearing white.

So congrats, Amy and Kelly, and all the other happy couples in Florida. I can’t wait til Texas gets on the bandwagon and my spouse and I get to make it legal.

—  Tammye Nash

It’s New Year’s Eve: Party on and party safely

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Are you still trying to decide where to go for New Year’s Eve? Here are a few options on where to go to bring 2015 in with a bang — and a couple of reminders to play it safe and keep the weather in mind and the drinking under control. This is a “no refusal” weekend for most area law enforcement agencies, and you don’t wanna start the year off with a trip to the pokey.

Wanna know where to go and what to do for New Year’s Eve? Here are just a few ideas:

The Round-Up Saloon’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. Includes a catered buffet, breakfast after midnight, a cash balloon drop, a champagne toast and party favors. Tickets are $20 at the door. 3912 Cedar Springs Road.

Alexandre’s New Year’s Eve Party with Andrea Dawson and Band. Free champagne toast at midnight. No cover. Party hats and favors provided. 9 p.m–close. 4026 Cedar Springs Road.

Full Circle Tavern’s “Mad as Hatter” New Year’s Eve Party. Dress your head in its most interesting attire to ring in 2015. All-inclusive dinner, cocktails, live DJ, party favors and complementary champagne at midnight. RSVP at 214-208-3435. 1319 S. Lamar St.

The Grapevine’s New Year’s Eve Party. Features DJ Christopher J (of super ’80s band Berlin with Terri Nunn) spinning from 7 p.m. Cover is $1 at the door. 3902 Maple Ave.

Club Dallas New Years Eve Party. Event begins at 11p.m. with a champagne toast at midnight. 2616 Swiss Ave.

Considering the weather forecasts for tonight and tomorrow, you might want to make sure that you get somewhere fun and stay there! Here’s the forecast from Jeff Ray at CBS Channel 11:

It was already snowing in Jack and Denton counties — north and west of DFW — overnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Today’s (Wednesday, Dec. 31′s) high is only going to get to about 37 degrees, and winter storm warnings have been issued, mostly for the western regions of the The Metroplex. Tarrant County is expected to get “a trace of wintry mix” and areas a bit further west may see up to half an inch of ice on the ground.

And yeah, the forecasts say everything will be west. But you don’t want to take a chance that some of that mess won’t make its way into Dallas and on east.

And now, here’s a word of warning from the Dallas Police Department on drinking and driving:

“The Dallas Police Department will conduct a No-Refusal DWI Initiative during the New Year’s Day Weekend. This initiative will begin at 6:00 P.M., Wednesday, December 31, 2014 and will end at 6:00 A.M., Monday, January 5, 2015.

“During this initiative, officers will secure a search warrant for a blood sample from all persons arrested for DWI who refuse to voluntarily give a breath and/or blood sample.

“The Dallas Police Department would like to remind everyone to not drink and drive.”

—  Tammye Nash

Welcome to the family Ty

In honor of Ty Herndon having come out, let me share this video of one of my favorites of his songs. We should all be living in the moment.

—  Tammye Nash

Country singer Ty Herndon comes out as gay

Country singer Ty Herndon came out as gay in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight.

Watch a segment of the video below.

—  James Russell

Cowtown Pride: Annual TCGPWA Parade held Saturday in downtown Fort Worth

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association staged its annual Pride Parade Saturday in downtown Fort Worth, featuring entries ranging from LGBT bars to LGBT churches, LGBT employee affinity groups from major corporations to gay-straight alliances to Metroplex Atheists. The festival followed on Main Street in front of the FW Convention Center.Here are just a few photos from the parade and festival.

Watch for a second slide show of photos from the TCGPWA Picnic, held Sunday at Trinity Park.

Parade photos by Tammye Nash

—  Tammye Nash

The end of Archie: Iconic comic book character will die saving gay friend

After nearly 75 years with Veronica and Betty and Reggie and Jughead, Archie Andrews will die this week. And he will die saving his gay friend from an assassin’s bullet.Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 11.09.52 AM

Archie Comics officials announced in April that the “Life with Archie” series about the gang from Riverdale would end this year with Archie Andrews’ death. Archie Comics Publisher and CEO Jon Goldwater told AP Archie will die in Wednesday’s installment of “Life with Archie” and that he “dies heroically. He dies selflessly. He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us. It’s what Archie has come to represent over the past almost 75 years.”

Kevin Keller, the first gay character in the Archie Comics world, was first introduced in 2010 in the Archies Comic spinoff “Veronica.” He appeared later in a solo title, and then in the “Life with Archie” series, Kevin Keller is a married military veteran and newly-elected senator who is pushing for more gun control in Riverdale after his husband is involved in a shooting. Goldwater wouldn’t say who it is that pulls the trigger and ends up shooting Archie, only that it is a stalker who wanted to take down Keller.

Goldwater said Archie will die in “Life with Archie” No. 26, and that issue No. 37 will jump forward a year to tell the story of the rest of the gang remembering Archie. Goldwater said that the comic’s authors “wanted to do something that was impactful that would rally resonate with the world and bring home how important Archie is to everyone. … Metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born.”

—  Tammye Nash