23 TX couples compete for $5K in ACLU’s Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest

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Even though same-sex marriage isn’t allowed or recognized in the Lone Star State, that doesn’t mean those in the LGBT community aren’t busy planning their dream weddings here at home and in other states.

Of those couples, 23 have entered the American Civil Liberties Union’s Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest, which highlights the unfair patchwork of state marriage laws. Couples from states without marriage equality were eligible to enter and share their dream wedding plans across state lines. Five couples will win $5,000 toward their wedding. Voting ends this weekend.

Among the Texas entries are some pretty sweet love stories, including Dallas activists Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who would marry in New Mexico and then “decorate our pick-up truck with all the gayest ‘Just Married’ decorations we could find and drive back across the State of Texas to our home in Dallas.”

Here are a few other examples:

1391179874-104204-01Sharon and Marcel, who plan to marry in Hawaii.

“Marcel is my first love, first girl I kissed 30 years ago. It was the summer of 1984 when I first came out and met her. It was love at first sight, but due to the shock of the overwhelming feelings of love and coming out our relationship lasted only 6 months. We went separate ways and lost one another to life’s roller coaster, military, other relationships, heartache and never spoke to each other again. We saw each other again at my high school reunion and all those feelings came back … I proposed to her the summer of 2012 at the same spot where we first met.”

Jeff and Jeremiah, who want to take a road trip and record their wedding journey.1390127543-98122-01

“We met on an airplane. Jeff was flying home to Milwaukee, Wisc., and Jeremiah was the airline attendant on the flight. I (Jeff) was interested in him and gave him my number. We later connected online/on the phone, and began talking very often. The next time that Jeremiah’s work took him to Wisconsin, he and I shared dinner, and from their months of conversation evolved into a long-distance relationship. Jeremiah would go out of his way to book hours on flights that passed through or ended in Milwaukee, and we fell in love months later. We recently relocated to Houston, TX for Jeff’s new job.”

1391966181-111267-01Toby and Daniel, who want to wed in Washington, D.C. and have a celebration at their family’s country home in Brenham, Texas.

“We met in 2007, Daniel was from Mexico living in Houston. Bar Manager at my favorite TexMex Restaurant. I work in Consulting and would meet clients at his restaurant. In between meetings I would visit his bar and communicate via “span-tran” on my laptop with him. I didn’t know Daniel would one day save my life 7 years later by being tested anonymously and donating his healthy Kidney to me after high blood pressure and hypertension destroyed mine in 2013. His blood type, and antigen match was a perfect match to me. God knew. Miracle.”

To view all of the Texas entries, go here and search by state or couple.

—  Dallasvoice

PHOTOS: Creating Change 2014 in Houston

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

 HOUSTON — Thousands of LGBT advocates departed from Houston Sunday as the 26th annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change came to a close.

The annual five-day conference set records for the amount of attendees and workshops in its first year in Houston. And the inspiration of the weekend was all around during the conference, from Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s welcome to trans actress Laverne Cox’s keynote speech and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey’s State of the Movement address. (If you missed any of the speeches, you can watch them here.)

And, like any celebration in the LGBT community, it ended with a bang as bisexual singer Nona Hendryx rocked out on stage on Sunday after brunch.

More photos below.

—  Dallasvoice

Annise Parker touches on importance of elections, unity at Creating Change

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the crowd at the national Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker was cheered to the stage by thousands of people when she was introduced Thursday evening as Mrs. Annise Parker at The National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.

Parker married her longtime partner earlier this month in California. She welcomed the applause during her welcome address at the conference, now in its 26th year, which is in Houston for the first time.

“You’re acting as if you’ve never seen a lesbian before,” Parker said. “And, yes, this what a lesbian mayor looks like.”

While conference organizers had hoped to hold the event in Houston when Parker was mayor — she’s now in her third and final term — Parker said she wanted to be a part of the experience that happens when thousands of LGBT activists and advocates converge for the national gathering.

“It was important for me to be here tonight because one, you’re my family,” she said. “Two, it is important for the rest of the United States and the rest of the state of Texas to experience what we do here at Creating Change, and I wanted to be a part of that.

“And I get to home to my new wife,” she added.

Parker, who said she lit up City Hall in rainbow colors for the conference, touched on her citywide elections and how LGBT people can create change by electing the right people to any office.

“I’m here to tell you elections matter,” she said. “And when you put someone in the state house or in the city council chamber or in the mayor’s office, you can make a difference in the lives of people that you will never meet and never see, but you know that you are transforming people’s lives. And those mayors might do something like penning the most comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance in the United States as their third executive act.”

Parker has said this term she plans to have the council pass a nondiscrimination ordinance similar to those in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

She also said people could elect a mayor who supports marriage equality. Parker is a co-chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and she encouraged attendees to go by Freedom to Marry’s booth and email their mayors to support marriage equality.

And with such a diverse representation of the LGBT community, Parker ended by encouraging the community’s strength to focus on common goals instead of divisive factors.

“The most important thing that we can do here today, this evening and at this conference, is to look around at who’s here with us, look at the strength we have as a community, recognize that the differences that divide us are so much less than the things that unite us,” she said. “Our strength is powerful.”

—  Dallasvoice

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.

—  Dallasvoice

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.

—  Dallasvoice

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.”

—  Dallasvoice

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.”

—  Dallasvoice

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

Nitzan_Horowitz_2012

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