UT-Tyler conducting research into LGBT relationships

A psychology graduate student at the University of Texas—Tyler is working on a study, and might be able to use your help.

The project is about how gay relationships have changed over time, and Lori Roberts needs some interview subjects. Roberts wants to speak to anyone who identifies as LGBTQ, male or female, as long at they have had some relationship (though you do not need to be in a relationship currently) and are over the age of 55. Participation is confidential and the interviews will each take about 30 to 45 minutes — “at maximum, an hour,” Roberts says, who describes the research as “positive, LGBTQ-friendly.”

If interested, or if you have any questions, email Roberts at LRoberts14@patriots.uttyler.edu. Her plan is to schedule a Saturday or Sunday in the near future to come to Dallas and conduct the interviews in-person.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Debate rages over same-sex marriage in several states as polls show growing support

DAVID KLEPPER | Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — A flurry of activity in efforts to legally recognize gay relationships or ban same-sex marriage is reminding advocates that even though polls indicate growing acceptance, the debate is far from settled in U.S. states.

Rhode Island is pondering a proposal to allow civil unions, a compromise that arose after it became clear there weren’t enough votes in the state legislature to approve same-sex marriage. Minnesota lawmakers voted to put a constitutional marriage ban on the ballot, and the mayor of New York spoke out strongly in favor of same-sex marriage as talks continue in his state.

In Rhode Island, gay marriage advocates say they’re unsatisfied with the proposal to offer civil unions, which provide many of the same legal benefits of marriage without calling it that.

“There’s a special status when you say ‘my wife,’ and civil unions don’t give that,” said Annie Cronin-Silva, of West Warwick, who married a woman in neighboring Massachusetts in 2008. “But things are changing. It’s coming. It’s just so hard to wait.”

Gay marriage is allowed in Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and the District of Columbia. Several other states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships instead. Illinois, Delaware and Hawaii enacted civil unions this year. The debate continues to rage in several other states.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday warned lawmakers in his state that they will be remembered as civil rights obstructionists if they block attempts to pass gay marriage. Opponents have committed $1.5 million to defeat the efforts, matching the amount raised by supporters.

Minnesota lawmakers voted a week ago to put a constitutional prohibition against gay marriage on the 2012 ballot. Voters in 29 states have already added similar amendments, and gay marriage supporters hope to make Minnesota the first state to reject such an amendment.

“It’s a changed debate in Minnesota and in the nation,” said Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota. “I’m hoping we can ride that sea change. But we know we have a very big challenge in front of us.”

Even though Massachusetts considers Cronin-Silva and her wife, Melanie Silva, legally married, Rhode Island doesn’t. They’ve had legal agreements drawn up granting rights that are automatic through marriage, such as making medical decisions in an emergency.

Civil unions could spare gay couples an expensive trip to a lawyer, Cronin-Silva said. But she said it’s no substitute for marriage.

Groups on both sides of the debate have long pointed to polls that appear to advance their agenda. But in the past nine months, several major surveys are showing a trend of increasing support for gay marriage.

A Gallup poll released this month found that a majority of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal. In 1996, Gallup found that only 27 percent of Americans supported gay marriage. It’s just the latest of several major surveys showing that a slim majority of Americans now support gay marriage.

“I thought for a while it might be one fluky poll,” said Gregory Lewis, a professor of public management and policy at Georgia State University who tracks public attitudes on gay marriage. “But now it’s just one after another. It does seem like this year’s polls are noticeably different even from last year.”

An ABC-Washington Post survey in March found that 53 percent of Americans support gay marriage. An Associated Press poll in August found that 52 percent of Americans think the federal government should extend legal recognition to married gay couples, up from 46 percent the year before.

Opponents note that public opinion polls in Maine and California showed majority support for gay marriage in those states, too — right before voters rejected gay marriage measures. Even in left-leaning Rhode Island, efforts to pass marriage rights stalled this year after legislators balked.

The polls show at least two factors contributing to changing attitudes.

For one, younger Americans of all political persuasions say they’re more tolerant of homosexuality than older generations.

Meghan McCain, the daughter of former Republican presidential candidate and gay marriage opponent Sen. John McCain, is one example of a prominent Republican who says the party’s opposition to gay marriage is causing it to turn off younger voters.

Madeline Koch, a 24-year-old heterosexual Republican, told Minnesota lawmakers to oppose the gay marriage amendment because it would put inequality in the state Constitution.

Second, while older Americans identifying themselves as Republicans remain firmly opposed to gay marriage, Democrats and independents appear to be changing their minds, Lewis said. The Gallup poll found that 69 percent of self-described Democrats support gay marriage, compared with 56 percent the year before.

“The generational changes don’t explain everything,” Lewis said. “There’s a fair amount of Americans who are just changing their minds.”

Gay marriage opponents concede that surveys show increased support for gay marriage. But they say polls are different from ballot questions.

“A poll is just a poll,” said Chris Plante, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage-Rhode Island. “The reality is, when people go to the voting booth they protect marriage. Legislatures including our own in Rhode Island recognize that people don’t want it.”

Plante points to similar predictions made about the demise of the anti-abortion movement after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing abortion rights. Nearly 40 years later, anti-abortion groups have successfully pushed for more restrictions on abortion throughout the U.S.

“They think the old folks will just die out and they’ll win this with the young people,” he said. “Maybe for a season. But I believe we will see young people say, ‘Wait a second. This was an awful social experiment.’ You have to take the long view.”

From the other side of the debate, New York Mayor Bloomberg also endorsed viewing it in context. A measure to legalize gay marriage in the state is being negotiated among Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, but Cuomo has said he won’t put it to a vote until enough legislators are on board.

The billionaire mayor has lobbied Republican state senators, for whom he is a major campaign funder, but no senator has committed to switching camps.

“As other states recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry, we cannot stand by and watch,” Bloomberg said Thursday in a Manhattan speech. “To do so would be to betray our civic values and history — and it would harm our competitive edge in the global economy.”

—  John Wright

Mr. Nice Guy

Gay musician Tom Goss stays defiant about his squeaky-clean image

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

PINING UPSIDE DOWN BEEFCAKE | Tom Goss just turned 30, and love has softened his musical heart.

TOM GOSS
With Brant Croucher. Opening Bell Coffee, 1409 S. Lamar St. May 12 at 8 p.m. $5.
OpeningBellCoffee.com

………………….

Once upon a time, Tom Goss was a wounded, angry man. He alludes to his parents’ marriage leaving scars when he was younger, and at one point even believed he wouldn’t live to see 30.
But Goss hit that milestone birthday this week, so some things must be going right.

“You know, I kept waiting for my tragic death,” he admits. “When I turned 30 a few days ago, I used it as an excuse to give myself a new perspective on things.”

Goss performs Thursday at Opening Bell in support of Turn it Around, an album that heralds an optimism not heard on his early releases. Now married to his partner of five years, Goss is in love and he wants the world to know.
“I got married to the man I’m madly in love with and I want to convey that in this album,” he says.

Everything about Around is feel-good, maybe overly sentimental, but it does offer a refreshing perspective.  Goss dissolves the idea that uplifting songs equate to Christian music. Instead, he brings a level of cheer without being annoying. And with such a blatant overtone of romance, he resonates with gay listeners who might also want to celebrate their love.

“As an artist, I want my music to connect with everyone,” he says. “I don’t specify ‘he’ or ‘she’ in my lyrics, because I want to focus on everybody. I like the things people share instead of divide. At the same time, I can bring a kind of normalcy to gay relationships.”

He does that to full effect in videos such as “Till the End,” “You Don’t Question Love” and most notably in “Lover,” from his 2009 album Back to Love. Depicting the relationship between two men —  one a soldier hurt in battle, the other waiting at home — the video has gotten heavy rotation on Logo. While portraying gay relationships, Goss also makes political statements … even if he doesn’t mean to.

“I wasn’t trying to shock anybody with the video — I’m not that political,” he says. “I started getting emails and meeting soldiers telling me about their involvement with ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the video was a result of that even though the song wasn’t originally written with that in mind.”

Goss says that his evolution as an artist is most apparent with this album. His songwriting is crisper and he felt like he let loose with a strong positive energy all in an effort to make a “really great pop album.” He’s fine without trying to have an edge that music sometimes requires.

“You can go back to first album and hear the hurt, but I don’t feel like I have that anymore,” he says. “As for an edge or dark side, I don’t really have one. I’m supposed to be edgy and all these things but for the most part, I’m nice. I left my anger and violence in my past.”

He laughs at himself for being a “bad artist” because he thinks more about songwriting than branding or marketing, but he also knows his look, sound and tone are bright and what his fans want — something that’s wholesome.

“So much of the world, especially in the gay world, is bitter,” he says. “Although I’m not sure I ever set out to be anything particular, I want to turn people emotionally. I want to show them there is something beyond that bitterness.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Hate gay people? There’s an app for that

Pink News, Europe’s largest gay news service, reports that Apple has approved an anti-gay iPhone app:

The app is based on the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto released in 2009 by Christian and Catholic leaders which rails against the “erosion” of marriage.

Apple has given the app a 4+ rating, meaning that it contains “no objectionable content.”

The app asks users whether they agree with four statements on abortion and same-sex marriage and those who answer that they are pro-choice and pro-gay marriage are told that they are incorrect.

It also has links to read and sign up to the full declaration, which says that gay relationships are “immoral” and that same-sex marriages are equivalent to sanctioning incest.

Change.org has launched a petition calling on Apple to remove the app from the iTunes store. To sign the petition, go here. View more screenshots of the app at Good As You.


—  John Wright

Miley writes for the gays

If I’m not shooing away a certain co-worker desperate for Miley Cyrus’ latest CD (hi Ramon!), then I find this piece on the teen queen. Her album hasn’t even been out a week and Cyrus bombardment has already ensued. Even as such, this piece of entertainment news was surprisingly impressive.

Miley had a very touching and open-minded moment Monday night that we should all recognize. At her performance at the House of Blues L.A., she performed a song off her new album titled, “My Heart Beats for Love.” “I wrote this for my gay fans,” Miley said. “Everyone has the right to love each other and no one should feel discriminated or judged for that.”

The best part of the piece is the question and poll posed to everyone. At the end of the article, we’re asked “Do you think Miley Cyrus should sing about gay relationships, or do you prefer she leave homosexual issues out of her music?” followed by a voting poll asking the same thing. The lone comment was in support of her taking on the issue, but really, it just feels like writer Liz Gellar wanted to egg on a heated debate. Or perhaps the people at Gather.com. By the looks of the votes though, it looks like most people are pretty cool with it.

— Rich Lopez

—  Dallasvoice