Alvarado cafe owner likely will have to pay $5K for implying customer was gay

The Texas Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a cafe owner in Alvarado, a town south of Fort Worth, who was ordered to pay a customer $5,000 for making comments that implied he was gay.

The attorney for the customer said the case was about his client being humiliated repeatedly and not a gay issue. However, the comment from the cafe owner implied he was gay, and he could only have been humiliated if being gay were something to be ashamed of.

A state district judge and appeals court both ruled in the customer’s favor. By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court allows the lower court’s ruling to stand. The cafe owner now must pay her customer $5,000.

So now can sue when people call us straight?

—  David Taffet

Houston Dynamo’s Colin Clark becomes 1st player suspended by MLS for using gay slur

Colin Clark

Dynamo midfielder Colin Clark became the first Major League Soccer player suspended for using a gay slur Wednesday.

Clark screamed the slur at a ball boy March 23 after he refused to toss him the ball at a game in Seattle. He was suspended for three games with pay and fined an undisclosed amount.

He is the second MLS player reprimanded for using a gay slur. Vancouver Whitecaps player Lee Nguyen was formally warned six weeks ago after he called teammate Brad Nighton a shortened version of the word on Twitter.

But Clark is believed to be the first player a major American sports league has suspended for using a gay slur, according to The Houston Chronicle.

—  Dallasvoice

Oft-fined Mavs owner Mark Cuban, once called ‘faggot’ by Kenyon Martin, mum on Kobe penalty

It was with great anticipation that we awaited Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s response to our inquiry about the $100,000 fine levied against Kobe Bryant by the NBA on Wednesday for shouting an anti-gay slur at a referee.

After all, Cuban is no stranger to being fined by the league. According to Wikipedia, Cuban has racked up more than $1.5 million in fines for 13 incidents, including several involving criticism of referees.

On the other hand, Cuban was once on the receiving end of an anti-gay slur from a player. Kenyon Martin of the Denver Nuggets called Cuban a “faggot motherfucker” after a playoff game in 2009 (video above). Martin was retaliating for Cuban’s comments a few nights before, when the Mavs owner told Martin’s mother that her son was a “thug.”

Finally, Cuban is no homophobe. After former NBA player John Amaechi came out as gay in 2007, Cuban went on national TV and said that if a current player came out they would be a hero and become rich, despite some “idiots” who might condemn them. Read Cuban’s subsequent interview with Dallas Voice here.

So, how would all this factor in to Cuban’s thoughts on Kobe’s fine? Here’s his response to our email from this morning:

—  John Wright

WATCH: SMU student who chairs Texas College Republicans resigns after using gay slur

Charlie McCaslin, chairman of the Texas College Republicans, announced his resignation Thursday after the above video surfaced of a drunken endorsement speech in which he called his preferred candidate’s opponents “fags.”

Charlie McCaslin

McCaslin, a junior at SMU, was speaking during an afterparty at the Texas College Republicans Convention in Austin last weekend. In the video, he pledges his support for Alex Schriver, the current National College Republicans vice chairman who’s running for chairman. McCaslin talks about “getting hammered” with Schriver at a party and having sex with a girl, then calls Schriver’s opponents “nerds” and “fags.” At the end of McCaslin’s speech, Schriver can be heard responding with an emphatic, “To Charlie!”

In an apology sent to the SMU Daily Campus newspaper, McCaslin said the speech was “not reflective” of his “true feelings towards those groups.” Schriver, meanwhile, called McCaslin’s comments “inappropriate and highly offensive” but acknowledged that some who watch the video  “might incorrectly interpret my actions to be supportive.”

Schriver’s opponent in the race for national chairman, Ohio State University student Jonathan Snyder, called for him to resign as vice president, saying that “having a chairman who is willing to accept and then toast degrading remarks about women, homophobic slurs and juvenile behavior is unacceptable.”

Watch an unedited version of the video here.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gay couple burned out of home; trans discrimination study; marriage updates

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A gay couple in Clayton, N.C., was burned out of their home (above) in a possible hate crime on Friday after suffering anti-gay harassment repeatedly over the last year. A neighbor says the couple had their tires slashed, had a gay slur written on their home in marker and received a note with a gay slur in their mailbox telling them to move. Police, however, still aren’t convinced it was a hate crime. Watch a video report here.

2. The largest study ever on discrimination against transgender people showed that 41 percent have attempted suicide, compared to 1.6 percent of the general population. The study, by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, also showed that trans people are four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, and that 26 percent said they’d lost a job because of their gender identity/expression. Read more here, or download the full study here.

3. Same-sex marriage updates from Maryland, Rhode Island and Indiana.

—  John Wright

2 arrested in anti-gay beating at famed gay bar

JENNIFER PELTZ  |  Associated Press

NEW YORK — A patron at the Stonewall Inn, a powerful symbol of the gay rights movement since protests over a 1969 police raid there, was tackled to the floor and beaten in an anti-gay bias attack over the weekend, authorities said Monday, Oct. 4.

Two men were arrested in the early Sunday beating, which came little more than a day after a group of male friends bidding an affectionate good night to each other were attacked in another anti-gay assault elsewhere in Manhattan, prosecutors said.

The attacks came amid heightened attention to anti-gay bullying following a string of suicides attributed to it last month, including a New Jersey college student’s Sept. 22 plunge off the George Washington Bridge after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly streamed online.

But the attack prosecutors described at the Stonewall Inn especially galled and saddened gay rights advocates, some of whom wondered whether a place known for a defining moment in the history of gay rights might spur a new push for tolerance.

For the Stonewall’s owners, the episode was a sharp and upsetting contrast to its legacy.

“We at the Stonewall Inn are exceedingly troubled that hate crimes like this can and do still occur in this day and age. Obviously the impact of these men’s violent actions is even deeper given that it occurred on the premises of the Stonewall Inn,” an owner, Bill Morgan, wrote in an e-mail.

The victim was using a restroom at the Greenwich Village bar around 2 a.m. local time Sunday when a man at the next urinal, Matthew Francis, asked what kind of an establishment it was, prosecutors said. On being told it was a gay bar, Francis used an anti-gay slur and told the victim to get away from him, assistant district attorney Kiran Singh said.

“I don’t like gay people. Don’t pee next to me,” Francis added, according to the prosecutor.

Francis, 21, then demanded money, punched the victim in the face and continued beating him after a co-defendant blocked the door, tackled the victim and held him down, Singh said. The victim was treated at a hospital and was released, she said.

Francis said nothing at his arraignment Monday. A defense lawyer said that Francis wasn’t the aggressor and that the episode wasn’t motivated by bias.

“Mr. Francis is not a violent person. Nor did he try to rob anyone,” said the attorney, Angel Soto. “There may have been a fight, but it certainly wasn’t a hate crime.”

Francis was held on $10,000 bond. His co-defendant was awaiting arraignment.

Just before midnight Friday, Oct. 1 several male friends hugging and kissing each other good night in Manhattan’s gay-friendly Chelsea neighborhood were confronted by a group of more than five people who used an anti-gay epithet and told them to go home because “this is our neighborhood,” according to a court document filed by prosecutors. Two other men lashed out with fists as Andrew Jackson hurled a metal garbage can into one victim’s head, prosecutors said.

Jackson, 20, was arraigned over the weekend on hate crime assault and other charges. His lawyer, Anne Costanzo, declined to comment Monday.

The Stonewall Inn became a rallying point for gay rights in June 1969, when a police raid sparked an uprising in an era when gay men and women were often in the shadows. Stonewall patrons fought with officers, and several days of demonstrations followed, in an outpouring that became a formative moment in the gay rights movement.

“The riots at Stonewall gave way to protests, and protests gave way to a movement, and the movement gave way to a transformation that continues to this day,” President Barack Obama said at a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month reception at the White House in June 2009.

The Stonewall riots’ influence also is reflected in the names of some gay resource organizations, including student groups at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

For the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which works to combat attacks on gays and others, assaults like this weekend’s remain all too common problems. But the attack at the Stonewall Inn reverberates with a particularly disturbing resonance, executive director Sharon Stapel said.

“Even in a bar like the Stonewall Inn, which started a huge part of the gay rights movement — even the Stonewall Inn is not immune to this sort of violence, despite all of the work that they do to create a safe and tolerant atmosphere,” Stapel said. “It’s incredibly sad.”

But she said she hoped the incident and the atmosphere of concern about anti-gay harassment would spark new conversations about how to respond.

The Stonewall Inn has raised money for the Anti-Violence Project and other groups, and managers strive to make the bar inclusive, Morgan said.

“We do our best to run a nice, welcoming establishment where anyone can and should feel safe,” he said.

—  John Wright

Break it down

Straight local band Bible Fire has a hit with ‘Holly is a Homophobe’

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer

STRAIGHT NOT NARROW | The Bible Fire bassist Rob Halstead, center, wrote about a gay-hating colleague despite few ties to the gay community; the band’s drummer, Chris Isaacs, left, has many gay ties.
STRAIGHT NOT NARROW | The Bible Fire bassist Rob Halstead, center, wrote about a gay-hating colleague despite few ties to the gay community; the band’s drummer, Chris Isaacs, left, has many gay ties.

Trees, 2709 Elm St.
Sept. 16. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Clearly, you should watch what you say around Rob Halstead or it could turn into a song.

When a day-job co-worker of the Bible Fire songwriter went on a hostile rant against the gays, Halston ripped her a new one by putting it to music.  The result was “Holly is a Homophobe,” a single from the local band’s new album The Pursuit of Imperfection. Unexpectedly, when the group performs, it’s one of their most requested and popular songs.

“Holly is this girl me and Grant [Scruggs, the band’s guitarist] both worked with,” Halstead says. “She’s an enigma to me because she’s so nice and caring and then prejudiced all the way around.” An example of the lyric: Holly is a homophobe / Disdainfully, she told me so / Her biggest fear is turning queer / And I just thought that everyone should know.

After a misunderstanding, Holly had a freak out when she thought someone called her a gay slur. According to Halstead, she went on a rant that took him and Scruggs by surprise. He can see, though, she is sort of a victim to the usual checklist of items: “Country girl from out in the boonies, a generic Texas town, religious parents, ignorant.”

It’s not hard to hate someone you’ve never met / But face to face and still you’ve no regret / Holly, there’s a reason that nobody agrees with you.

Interestingly, Halstead admits to have little exposure to gay the community beyond his wife’s brother who is out and some curious treks to Oak Lawn in his younger days. But homosexuality isn’t an issue with him per se.

“My stance is, it’s your life,” he says. “It doesn’t affect me personally, but I’m not saying I don’t care, I just can’t care if I’m not directly involved.

It’s like I feel I can’t have an opinion on abortion because it’s a woman’s issue and something only women experience and understand.”

He makes it make sense. Straight men may not relate to gay issues, but Halstead doesn’t feel that’s reason for anti-gay (or fill in the blank) rhetoric.  “I Just have problems when people or religion are hurting people or affecting rights.”

He adds, though, that his wife is a huge advocate for gay rights because of her brother and even “punched a dude in the nose,” for spouting off.

By contrast, drummer Chris Isaacs does have a strong connection to the community. The best man at his wedding was his gay best friend, and he’s lost friends to AIDS. Even without contributing to the creation of the song, it rings loudly with him.

“This runs deeper for me because my wife and I have had so many gay friends,” he says. “We really detest this kind of behavior.”

You’ve got trauma, overprotected / Odds are adding up to gay or molested / A baby raised in ignorance, passing on hatred / Rise above, write it off, recalculate it.

Perhaps Holly herself is a way-closeted lesbian, but Halstead doesn’t figure that to be the case.

“You would think, but no, I really don’t believe she’s closeted,” he says.

Congratulations we commend you / Dedicated hater’s a full time job / Now let’s all give a round of applause to Holly / Holly, take a bow.

Nor did the song really open her mind even though it rips her to shreds. Halstead’s disappointed by this. He had hopes for the tiniest seed to be planted.

“Nothing is going to change people who make up their minds,” he says. “I would like to think it changed her, but I don’t really think so. She does come to our shows, though!”

I know you were born in the middle of a former Confederate state / But your views are two decades behind the times and still running late.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas