HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

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The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Since filing for governor, Davis has publicly applauded San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Davis supported a similar ordinance in 2000 when she served on the Fort Worth City Council. But her campaign has since been silent on LGBT issues. Davis was a surprise speaker at HRC’s Black Tie Dinner in November, and she’ll be attending a Dallas LGBT fundraiser at a lesbian couple’s home this Friday, which is closed to media. Despite showing up at fundraisers and events where she appeals to LGBT voters, her campaign has refused several requests for an interview with Dallas Voice for the reason that she is too busy.

—  Anna Waugh

Anderson Cooper’s UTA appearance rescheduled for Feb. 10

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If you missed out on getting tickets to see out CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in November, you have a second chance to see him in February.

Cooper’s appearance as part of the The University of Texas at Arlington’s 2013-14 Maverick Speakers Series was rescheduled due to his work schedule.

Tickets for the Feb. 10 event went on sale today. Tickets for the November event won’t be honored.

Out journalist and immigration activist Jose Vargas opened the speaker series in September.

For more information about the series, including upcoming appearances by CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta and NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

Lockheed Martin cuts ties to Boy Scouts over gay leader ban

lockheed_martin_logo_miLockheed Martin announced Thursday that it would end donations to the Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s ban on gay adult leaders.

The decision came after a review of the company’s philanthropy guidelines to evaluate its 2014 priorities, The Associated Press reports.

While the BSA’s National Council voted in May to lift the ban on gay Scouts, the organization continued to prevent gay leaders from serving among its ranks.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Johndroe said Lockheed Martin was glad for the change, but opposes the continued ban on gay leaders.

Lockheed follows UPS Inc., Merck & Co. and Intel in cutting ties to the Boy Scouts over its no-gays policy in recent years.

Johndroe said the company decided to end relationships with nonprofits that don’t share its corporate policies or commitment to diversity.

“We believe engaging with and funding an organization that openly discriminates is in conflict with our policies,” he said in a statement. “While we applaud the mission of the Boy Scouts and the good things they do in our communities, their policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and religious affiliation conflict with Lockheed Martin policies.”

Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Irving-based Boy Scouts, said Lockheed Martin was not a national sponsor but has had a positive impact by supporting Scouting in local communities.

“We respect the company’s right to express its own opinion and appreciate its recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization,” he wrote in an email. “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Lesbian friend might convert kids, says Pat Robertson

Conservative televangelist Pat Roberston told a mother that allowing her family to meet with her longtime lesbian friend could cause her children to grow up gay. View the video below.

 

 

 

 

—  Steve Ramos

VA may withhold home loan from Dallas gay couple over Texas marriage ban

department_of_veterans_affairs_round_stickers-rc853e2f1e5b943d88d67df4ae0b8863c_v9waf_8byvr_512Dallas couple former Army Sgt. Earl Rector and Alan Rodriguez were surprised Tuesday when they were told that the Veterans Affairs Department may not give them a home loan because the office won’t count the income of the non-veteran spouse in states where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized.

The couple sold their home in November and got married later that month in Seattle before signing a contract on a new home. But when they found out they might not get the veterans home loan, their plans of owning the new home became jeopardized.

“We found out yesterday that VA told our lender that they would not guarantee the loan,” Rector told the Marine Corps Times. The notice came eight days before closing, and “after we were pre-approved weeks ago,” he said.

The couple could not immediately be reached for comment.

While the lender is dealing with the VA to ensure the loan is issued to the couple, this isn’t the first instance where a non-marriage-equality state has denied a veterans home loan to a same-sex couple.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is currently considering legislation that would order the VA to recognize same-sex couples in every state instead of the state’s definition of marriage.

But in the meantime, the Rector and Rodriguez could face a breach of contract penalty if the loan doesn’t go through.

“The seller is an attorney, which could make our lives difficult,” Rector said.

“Our financing bank is doing everything they can, but the VA approval process has been ambiguous and now appears impossibly complex and arbitrary.”

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: ‘Punch My Tammy’

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 11.01.21 AMI don’t know why, but this little video really tickled our Tammy.

What’s that, you say? You don’t know what a “Tammy” is, other than a sentimental song from the 1950s recorded by Debbie Reynolds.

Well, you’re about to find out in this super-gay, super-silly (and definitely sexy) little comic video. Definitely NSFW.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay Tel Aviv mayoral candidate loses election to gay-friendly incumbent

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Nitzan Horowitz

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was re-elected to a fourth five-year term on Tuesday, beating gay challenger Nitzan Horowitz who earned 41 percent of the vote.

Horowitz was the first openly gay candidate for mayor of a Middle Eastern city.

Tel Aviv’s LGBT population has grown in recent years and is currently estimated at 20 percent of the city’s 400,000 people. That includes quite a bit of immigration from Russia where gays and lesbians have been under attack since Vladimir Putin returned to office.

Horowitz’s left-leaning Meretz Party doubled its representation on the city council after Tuesday’s vote, but Huldai won after campaigning on how much he’s done for the LGBT community in his 15 years in office.

Among his accomplishments was publicly funding a LGBT community center. And during his term, Tel Aviv was voted best gay destination in a survey conducted by GayCities.com and American Airlines.

Below is a gay tourism ad filmed on the gay beach in Tel Aviv:

—  David Taffet

New BSA president is former Secretary of Defense who helped end DADT

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Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be the new president of the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board, the BSA announced Wednesday.

Gates, an Eagle Scout, will serve as an executive vice president and national president-elect upon the approval of the National Council in May. After the council’s approval, he would serve a two-year term as the BSA national president and lead the National Executive Board, which guides the BSA as it serves approximately 2.6 million youth members.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said in a statement. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today — an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth.”

As Secretary of Defense, Gates helped oversee the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned openly gay military members. The choice is an interesting one for the Irving-based organization, which has a storied past of discriminating against openly gay Scouts and volunteers. In May, the national council voted to allow openly gay Scouts, but not adult leaders.

Gates has a long history with the BSA, having served as a past member of the National Executive Board, past president of the National Eagle Scout Association and being awarded the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest commendation given by the BSA for extraordinary service to youth, and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the highest mark of distinction and recognition for those with exceptional service and unselfish interests.

—  Anna Waugh

Out candidate George Clayton still in House race, but now as a Democrat

George Clayton

George Clayton

Former State Board of Education member George Clayton is still planning on running to replace Dallas Republican Stephani Carter in House District 102, but he’ll now be seeking the Democratic nomination.

Clayton announced the party switch in an email on Sunday, writing that he’d decided to run as a Democrat instead of a Republican. Carter isn’t seeking re-election because she’s running for the Railroad Commission.

As an administrator for the Dallas Independent School District, Clayton has said his campaign for the House seat would focus on education issues. During his time on the SBOE he was outed as gay and lost in the primary last year, but he told Dallas Voice he doesn’t want to be known as the gay candidate.

“For those of you who know me, you understand this change does not alter my views on education,” Clayton posted on Facebook. “Rather it allows for a much better campaign in terms of openness and acceptance of ideas, beliefs and goals. I hope you will join with me in this crusade.”

The district, which includes parts of North Dallas, Richardson, Addison and Garland, is already heating up on the Republican side with Republican activist Adryana Boyne, former Dallas councilwoman Linda Koop and Richardson businessman Samuel Brown set to battle out in the March primary.

—  Anna Waugh

Fort Worth, El Paso have fewest same-sex couples among largest cities

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Fort Worth ranks 49th out of the 50 largest cities in percent of same-sex couples

New data released by the Census Bureau indicates two Texas cities — El Paso and Fort Worth — have the lowest percentage of same-sex couples among the 50 largest cities in the U.S.

Fort Worth came in No. 49 with just 0.26 percent of couples who are gay or lesbian, and El Paso is No. 50 with 0.25 percent of couples.

Colorado Springs, home of anti-gay hate groups such as Focus on the Family, is No. 48.

In the top spot is Seattle with 2.6 percent of couples gay or lesbian. Seattle edged out San Francisco with 2.5 percent. Minneapolis is third with 2.4 percent. All three of those cities are in marriage-equality states.

Despite having a lower concentration of gay and lesbian couples, El Paso has a pansexual state representative and Fort Worth has a gay city councilman.

In the latest census, Arlington ranked 50th largest city in the U.S. and has a higher percentage of same-sex couples than Fort Worth.

To be counted as gay couples, two people of the same sex had to report that they were married or an unmarried partner.

—  David Taffet