Bob Perry, No. 1 donor behind Texas marriage amendment in 2005, dies

Perry.Bob

Bob Perry

Bob Perry, who built homes in Oak Lawn and was the top donor to the anti-gay marriage amendment in Texas, died Saturday.

Perry came to national attention in 2004 when he funded Karl Rove’s “swiftboating” campaign against Sen. John Kerry, who was challenging President George W. Bush. The purpose was to cast doubt on Kerry’s claim to being a decorated Vietnam War hero. Until the swiftboat ads ran, Kerry was ahead in the polls.

But the following year, Perry’s contribution of $110,000 to a PAC supporting the anti-gay amendment, caused many in the LGBT community to boycott his properties. In Oak Lawn, Perry built The Reserve at Reagan and Wycliff Place. Downtown he built City View at Farmer’s Market.

Gay real estate agent Jack Evans said at the time: “Why feed the enemy? The more profit he makes from the community, the more he’s going to try his best to bury it.”

An Austin-based Perry spokesman at the time said Perry was not homophobic because he wouldn’t be building homes in LGBT neighborhoods if he were. Perry Homes also built properties in Houston’s heavily gay Montrose neighborhood.

—  David Taffet

From bad to much, much worse

NOT LIKELY | Despite predictions by The Economist, if Texas Gov. Rick Perry decides to run for president, he may take a more moderate position on some issues, but he probably won’t move to the middle on LGBT issues.

If Rick Perry runs for president, he’s likely to move toward the middle, but not on LGBT issues

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reproter

Just when I thought the social and political atmosphere couldn’t get any more depressing or bizarre than it already is, I witnessed Gov. Rick “Pretty Boy” Perry tell television reporters the other day he was thinking about running for president.

The governor followed that remark with the disclaimer that he tends to “think about a lot of things.” But if you ask me, he would probably have a difficult time proving that because everything that comes out of his mouth sounds like it’s been prepared by the Southern Baptist Convention’s advisory board.

But that could change according to The Economist, a weekly news and international affairs publication owned by a London-based publication that was founded more than a century and a half ago.

The Economist article speculated that if he ran for president, Perry would likely soften his stance against same-sex marriage, and that there really hadn’t been much of a debate about gay marriage in Texas.

It went on to say there hadn’t been a “serious effort” to legalize same-sex marriage or civil unions in Texas.

I had to reread that passage about three times to make sure that I really comprehended what I was reading. And when I was finally sure I was reading what I thought I was reading, it occurred to me The Economist staff must all be nuts and/or stoned.

The likelihood of the governor softening his stance on same-sex marriage is about as probable as him growing a ponytail and going skinny-dipping at Hippy Hollow on Lake Travis.

I think Perry probably shudders every time he remembers the rumors that spread across the country in 2004 that claimed he was a closet homosexual who had been caught in flagrante delicto by his wife, Anita, in the governor’s office with a high-ranking male public official.

That was the first time I was ever able to get Perry’s public relations office to return a call to the Dallas Voice after literally years of unsuccessful attempts. Soon after I left a message that I was writing about the widespread rumors, a spokesman quickly called me back to say the governor certainly was not a homosexual, had never been a homosexual and furthermore, never would be one.

The truth is that Perry has gone out of his way to offend the state’s LGBT community over the years:

He opposed the inclusion of sexual orientation in the state’s hate crime law. He told reporters he thought the state’s sodomy law was “appropriate” before it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. He supported the passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Texas. And he told a Fort Worth audience that gay and lesbian veterans returning from war should look for a more liberal state in which to live.

So to The Economist, I would have to say that I don’t think Perry is going to change his stance on same-sex marriage anytime soon, and that we have talked about same-sex marriage quite a bit in Texas, that we fought the passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage with everything we had and failed.

The reason we failed is that Texas is overpopulated by people who share the same ideology as Perry and keep voting him and other politicians like him into office. And what’s even scarier is that there are a whole lot of gay and lesbian voters and other socially liberal people who voted for Rick Perry.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. They don’t vote their consciences. They vote for what they consider is best for their pocketbooks.

I do think that if Perry were to run for president that he would attempt to move more to the middle from his current position on the far right. And it could work.

Former Texas Gov. George Bush was able to do it, and he even managed to convince a dozen or so LGBT political leaders that he would be gay-friendly.

Of course, we all know how it turned out with President Bush — very badly. But I don’t think things would turn out the same way with a President Rick Perry in the Oval Office — I think it would be much, much worse.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

Saudi arrested near Lubbock planned to blow up former president, Dallas resident George Bush

FBI agents today arrested Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a 20-year-old Saudi national studying chemical engineering at South Plains College near Lubbock, charging him with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, according to reports on MSNBC.com. Reports says one of Aldawsari’s primary targets may have been former president and current Dallasite George W. Bush.

Bush, who earned the wrath of many LGBT activists with his adamantly anti-gay stance that included support for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, now lives in Preston Hollow.

MSNBC reports that Aldwasari came to the U.S. to attend Texas Tech after getting a scholarship to the school, then trasnfered to South Plains. FBI agents have reportedly found his journal in which he wrote about specifically seeking a scholarship because it would help him get into this country more easily and because it would provide him with funds to carry out his jihad.

MSNBC.com says FBI agents found out about Aldawsari’s plot after being alerted by Carolina Biological Supply of Burlington, N.C., from whom Aldawsari tried to buy a chemical that has legitimate uses but can also be used to create an explosive called trinitrophenol. Agents then conducted covert searches of his apartment where they found chemicals and other items to create explosive devices. They also searched his computer and e-mails, finding e-mails he sent listing his potential targets. Those targets included the homes of three U.S. military troops who had served at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and reservoir dams in Colorado and California.

—  admin

Anti-war activist and LGBT ally Cindy Sheehan takes controversial position on DADT repeal

Cindy Sheehan

Activist Cindy Sheehan came out against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Sort of.

Ever since I first met Cindy Sheehan in 2004, she has been controversial. She was the first Gold Star Mom — the mother of a fallen soldier — to come out publicly against the war in Iraq. When I interviewed her then, I asked what her goal was. At the time, her main focus was that what happened to her shouldn’t happen to another mother.

She rapidly became the center of the small anti-war movement. For her efforts, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

After she demanded a meeting with President George Bush, who refused to meet with her or any other Gold Star Mom, she camped out in a ditch off Prairie Chapel Road outside the Bush “ranch” in Crawford, about 19 miles from Waco.

“Camp Casey,” named after her son who was killed, moved from the ditch to Bush’s backdoor neighbor’s property. That neighbor couldn’t stand the president or his policies either.

In today’s Al Jezeera, Sheehan wrote, “Don’t go, don’t kill.” She makes the interesting argument that the gay rights movement, which is a human rights movement, shouldn’t measure progress based on anything related to the military. She emphasizes that she is as much a marriage-equality advocate as she is a peace activist.

She reasonably asks whether enacting the bill “is going to stop the current systemic harassment of gays in the military?”

Her choice of forum is as controversial as she is. Her opinion is interesting and worth debating. She’s really saying — of course gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve. And now that you have the right, don’t do it.

When Sheehan was in Dallas for the protest against the groundbreaking of the Bush Library, she told me she’s thinking of a run for president. She promised we’d be among the first to know when she makes her decision.

—  David Taffet

LGBTs join anti-Bush protest at SMU

Action timed to coincide with groundbreaking for Bush’s presidential library at SMU

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Bush protest
PROTESTING BUSH | About 100 people from around the country, including some local LGBT activists, turned out to protest during the groundbreaking for the Bush presidential library on the SMU grounds this week. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

While George Bush and Dick Cheney broke ground on the new presidential library at Southern Methodist University on Tuesday, Nov. 16, about 100 people from around the country gathered a few blocks away to protest.

Although only one rainbow flag was flown during the protest, members of the LGBT community were prominent among the protesters. That one flag flew from the wheelchair of Kay Lucas.

Lucas was director of the Crawford Peace House, which has since closed. That house was near the main intersection in Crawford, down the road from the Bush ranch. During Bush’s presidency, the property was the center of anti-war activity and where Cindy Sheehan staged her protests.

Sheehan became the face of the anti-war movement after her son, Casey, was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. She spoke at the rally at SMU.

Dallas gay activist Aaron Rathbun attended the rally dressed in his graduation cap and gown and held a sign on stage that read, “Bush failed us.”

“I didn’t have on any rainbow paraphernalia,” said Aaron Rathbun, “I went representing academia.”

He said he went to listen and was impressed by the array of speakers. He mentioned a CIA trainer who left the agency during the Bush administration.
Rathbun said he was impressed by the conviction of someone who would give up his career by saying, “I’m not going to do this anymore.”

He also pointed to another speaker, Col. Ann Wright, who spent 29 years in the military and another 16 years as a diplomat. She resigned her diplomatic post to protest Bush administration policy.

A march began at about 9:30 a.m. at Mockingbird Station along Central Expressway and ended on the SMU campus outside Ford Stadium on the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Airline.

Five different police forces kept protesters and counter-protesters apart. The march began in Dallas, crossed into Highland Park and ended on campus in University Park. Police from each of the three cities remained in their own jurisdictions.

SMU campus police also were on hand at the rally, which was on campus. Sheriff’s department officers guarded the groundbreaking and former administration officials in riot gear with helmets, shields and batons.

While Rathbun said he was pleased with turnout at the protest, he said it was underreported because camera crews and journalists were not allowed to come and go from the groundbreaking site.

“They were on lockdown,” he said.

Only pre-approved guests and media were allowed near the library site.

Colleen Rowley, who was Time magazine’s 2002 person of the year as one of the year’s whistleblowers and has since run for Congress, tried marching from the protest site toward the groundbreaking.

“The police looked as sad as we did,” Rowley said.

She wore all black with a white expressionless mask and the name of an Iraq War soldier killed in action hanging on a sign around her neck.

Radio host and QueerLiberaction activist Rick Vanderslice led some of the chanting and was one of the speakers. He echoed the event’s “Arrest Bush” theme.

He said that the policy institute was being built to justify the policies of the Bush administration. He said that cannot be allowed to happen and called them war criminals who should be arrested and brought to justice.

“We all know that this library is just a way for him to rewrite his own history until it becomes a fait accompli,” Vanderslice said.

He said he was struck by the age of most of the protesters.

“Everyone was middle age or older,” he said. The old anti-war hippies.”

He was curious about the absence of any SMU students at the protest, noting a few who had come from University of North Texas and even one who came to Dallas from Baylor. Only two SMU staff stood across the street to observe despite the large number who had signed a petition to keep the library off campus.

However, many SMU students who were interested in the groundbreaking ceremony were watching the event on a large screen TV truck set up nearby. Campus officials reported that a large number logged onto the Internet to watch.

Vanderslice said that the rally was a weeklong event to activate people.

“I still think there’s efficacy in protesting,” Vanderslice said. “Younger people look at protesting as an antique.”

He said the Bush administration was such an enemy of the LGBT community, more should have attended, but understood that the rally took place during the workday and a school day.

“There must be consequences for misconduct,” he said. “We must demand justice.”

“With the scope of the atrocities done, I’d like to see Bush held accountable to an international tribunal,” Rathbun said.

Many of the protesters held signs that said “Arrest Bush” and “Arrest Cheney First.” A few criticized Obama for continuing Bush’s war policies.

Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin listed a variety of Bush administration atrocities such as water boarding, denying global warming and “bombing Iraq into the Stone Age.” She said she was amazed that after he admitted some of these things in his new book, no investigation was taking place.

Sheehan explained why she had traveled to Dallas from her home in California for the protest.

“You can’t put a bloom on that lily,” she said. “He wasn’t a good person. He wasn’t a good president. We can’t let him rewrite history.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Gays join protest of Bush library groundbreaking

Rick Vanderslice

About 100 people gathered to protest the groundbreaking of the George Bush Library on the Southern Methodist University campus this morning.

Members of the LGBT community were among the organizers. Other protesters came to Dallas from around the country.

Among the protesters was Cindy Sheehan, who became the face of the anti-war movement after the death of her son Casey in Iraq in 2004.

A march began at about 9:30 a.m. at Mockingbird Station and ended on the SMU campus outside Ford Stadium near Mockingbird Lane and Airline Drive. Many were dressed in black with white masks representing soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration.

Five different police forces kept protesters and counter-protesters apart. The march began in Dallas, crossed into Highland Park and ended on campus in University Park. SMU campus police also were on hand.

The groundbreaking was held several blocks away and protesters were not allowed anywhere near the dignitaries, who included  the Bushes and Cheneys. Sheriff’s department officers guarded that ceremony in riot gear with shields and batons. Only pre-approved guests and media were allowed near the library site.

However, pro-Bush counter-protesters were allowed to mingle on the outskirts of the anti-Bush crowd.

Local speakers were mostly from the LGBT community.

Aaron Rathbun dressed in a graduation cap and gown and held a sign on stage that read, “Bush failed us.”

Radio host and Queer LiberAction activist Rick Vanderslice led some of the chanting and was one of the speakers. He echoed the event’s “Arrest Bush” theme.

Vanderslice said the policy institute is being built to justify the policies of the Bush administration. He said this can’t be allowed to happen and called them war criminals who should be arrested and brought to justice.

“We can get them,” he said.

“Millions of lives have been ruined because of irresponsible foreign policy,” said Charles Grand, a speaker from the Socialist Workers Party.

Grand said he was happy with the number of people attending since the protest took place during a workday.

Sheehan explained why she had traveled to Dallas from her home in California for the event.

“You can’t put a bloom on that lily,” she said. “He wasn’t a good person. He wasn’t a good president. We can’t let him rewrite history.”

Other speakers included Time magazine 2002 person of the year Colleen Rowley, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, who spent 29 years in the military followed by 16 years as a diplomat and resigned her post to protest Bush administration policy.

State Rep. Lon Burnham from Tarrant County was scheduled to speak but was held up by an airline delay.

The museum and library will open in 2013. The policy center is already operating in offices in Preston Center.

Dressed as death, a number of protesters, including Time person of the year Colleen Rowley, marched to the groundbreaking but were turned back

—  David Taffet

More from Laura Bush on gay marriage

Dallas resident and former first lady Laura Bush told CNN’s Larry King on Tuesday that she supports equal rights for same-sex couples. King asked Bush about a passage from her recent book in which she said she asked her husband not to make a “significant issue” out of gay marriage during the 2004 campaign. The full clip is above. Here’s my transcript:

King: “Do you think we should have it (gay marriage)?”

LB: “I think that we ought to definitely look at it, and I’ve debated. I think there are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman, but I also know that when couples are committed to each other and love each other, they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has.”

King: “So would that be an area where you (and George) disagree?”

LB: “I guess that would be an area that we disagree. I understand totally what George thinks and what other people think about marriage being between a man and a woman, and it’s a real reversal … to accept gay marriage.”

King: “But you do?”

LB: “But I think we could. I think it’s also a generational thing.”

King: “You think it’s coming?”

LB: “Yeah, that (it) will come.”

—  John Wright