Progressive leaders slam Abbott over special session agenda

Lambda Legal senior counsel Jenny Pizer

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced today (Tuesday, June 6) that he will convene a special session of the Texas Legislature on July 18 and that the agenda for the special session includes school vouchers, the anti-transgender “bathroom bill” and multiple restrictions on abortion access.

Progressive leaders were quick to speak out against Abbott’s agenda:

Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas: “Lt. Gov. Patrick held the must-pass sunset bill hostage in order to advance his extremist agenda, and today Gov. Abbott paid the ransom. Taken together, the special session’s agenda items constitute an assault on Texas’s most persecuted communities — on women, on schoolchildren, on transgender kids. But there’s a reason this discriminatory legislation didn’t pass during the regular session: Texans don’t want it. And when legislators return to Austin on July 18, they should expect to meet stiff resistance not only from the ACLU, but from every Texan who believes everyone deserves a fair shot rather than a government running roughshod over our civil liberties.

“There is enough actual business Texas legislators need to take care of without pandering to Lt. Gov. Patrick and his determination to demonize transgender kids. That’s not just wrong and abusive: it’s also begging to be sued,” Burke said.

Jennifer C. Pizer, senior counsel and director of law and policy for Lambda Legal: “It was certainly widely expected that Gov. Abbott would call a special session. There are many items that Texas legislators did not act on, perhaps because they were distracted by the numerous, cruel efforts to enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law. There is enough actual business Texas legislators need to take care of without pandering to Lt. Gov. Patrick and his determination to demonize transgender kids. That’s not just wrong and abusive: it’s also begging to be sued.

“Let’s be clear,” Pizer continued, “the Legislature did find the time to pass HB 3859, a discriminatory bill that would allow many child placement agencies in the state foster care system — including agencies receiving state and federal funding — to prioritize their religious beliefs above the needs of children and to operate in a manner explicitly counter to professional standards. That bill is now before Gov. Abbott, and we call on him again to veto it.”

Pizer concluded, “We ask the Texas Legislature not to compound the error with this unwarranted solution in search of a problem driven by Lt. Gov. Patrick’s mistaken, discriminatory belief that transgender schoolchildren pose some kind of danger to others. Dozens of business leaders and sports organizations have called on legislators not to enact anti-LGBT legislation, pointing to the experience of North Carolina as a cautionary tale. And, as we said before, if the legislature does force discrimination targeting transgender schoolchildren into Texas law, you can bet that Lambda Legal will be on the case before the next school bell rings.”

Pizer also noted that Lambda Legal “stands ready to help transgender youth who experience discrimination in school, foster care or anywhere else.” Those students, their parents or guardians should call the Lambda Legal Help Desk at 212-809-8585 or to visit LambdaLegal.org/trans-students.

Sara Kate Ellis, president and CEO of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), also had choice words regarding Abbott’s special session agenda: “Gov. Greg Abbott is proving everything is bigger in Texas, including prioritizing discrimination. If the governor moves forward with this harmful legislation against trans students, LGBTQ people, businesses, and fair-minded Texans will respond in Texas style — big. Trans Texans have experienced harassment and threats because of this last session and if any anti-trans bills get signed into law, then Gov. Abbott’s legacy will be turning Texas into a state known for harming some its most marginalized people.”

—  Tammye Nash

This week in queerstory

Ru and Gaga are both in the news this week.

Time magazine’s May 1 edition comes out tomorrow (I know — what’s that about?), and in it they name the 100 most influential people in the world. Among them: RuPaul. That’s not a bad thing for the Emmy Award-winning drag queen, supermodel, recording artist, TV host and shady lady. Other queer icons on the list include actress Sarah Paulson, Washington State attorney general Bob Ferguson and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Congrats, all!

Shannon Purser, who played the awkward teen Barb on last summer’s hit show Stranger Things, has come out as bisexual. She expressed anxiety about it, saying she had just come out to close friends and family, so someone needs to send that girl a toaster!

Will & Grace star and gay ally Debra Messing will be the featured honoree at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York. The ceremony will take place May 6 at the Hilton Midtown. Don Lemon, Ross Mathews and Whoopi Goldberg are among the others in attendance at the 28th annual event.

Lady Gaga announced the world tour in support of her awesome album Joanne right after the Super Bowl, and it all but sold out immediately. Now, the tour has released more tickets for the North American arena events, including her performance in Dallas in December. Act fast!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GLAAD Media Awards announces nominees

0630 flashThe GLAAD Media Awards, which recognize positive portrayals of LGBT folks in media, announced it list of nominees yesterday. The winners will be revealed at two different ceremonies: One on Los Angeles on April 2, and one in New York on May 14. Here are the nominees:

Outstanding Film (Wide Release): Carol, The Danish Girl, Dope, Freeheld, Grandma.

Outstanding Film (Limited Release): 52 Tuesdays, Appropriate Behavior, Boy Meets Girl, Drunktown’s Finest, Tangerine.

Outstanding Documentary: Kumu Hina, Limited Partnership, Mala Mala, Tab Hunter Confidential, Tig.

Outstanding TV Comedy Series: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Faking It, Grace and Frankie, Looking, Master of None, Modern Family, Orange is the New Black, Please Like Me, Transparent, Vicious.

Outstanding TV Drama Series: Arrow, Black Sails, Empire, The Fosters, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, Nashville, Orphan Black, Sense8, Shameless.

Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series: Banana, Bessie, Cucumber.

Outstanding Individual Episode in a Series without a Regular LGBT Character: The Carmichael Show, Blackish, Royal Pains, NCIS New Orleans, NCIS.

Outstanding TV Reality Program: I Am Cait, I Am Jazz, New Girls on the Block, The Prancing Elites Project, Transcendent.

Outstanding Daytime Drama: The Bold and the Beautiful.

Outstanding Music Artist: Brandi Carlile, The Firewatcher’s Daughter; Miley Cyrus, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz; Adam Lambert, The Original High; Le1f, Riot Boi; Troye Sivan, Blue Neighbourhood.

Outstanding Comic Book: Angela: Queen of Hel; Harley Quinn; Lumberjanes; Midnighter; The Wicked+The Divine.

Nominees were also announced for the following categories: Outstanding TV Talk Show Episode; Outstanding TV Journalism (Newsmagazine); Outstanding TV Journalism (Segment); Outstanding Newspaper Article; Outstanding Magazine Article; Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage; Outstanding Digital Journalism Article; Outstanding Digital Journalism Multimedia; Outstanding Novela; Outstanding Daytime Program Episode (Spanish Language); Outstanding TV Interview (Spanish Language); Outstanding Local TV Interview (Spanish Language); Outstanding TV Journalism (Spanish Language); Special Recognition.

You can see the full list here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

GLAAD, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation release new PSA on AIDS; CDC releases new statistics

Liz Taylor at Freddie Mercury benefit

Elizabeth Taylor speaking at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation — GLAAD — and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation today (Tuesday, Oct. 20) announced the release of a public service announcement intended to “inspire, inform and re-ignite the passion and action needed to beat the HIV and AIDS epidemic once and for all.”

Created as part of an ongoing partnership between GLAAD and Elizabeth Taylor Foundation and produced by Martian Entertainment, the PSA begins with Taylor’s speech at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert as a way to introduce a new generation to the realities of HIV/AIDS and the tools available to overcome the epidemic. Meredith Viera, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Michael Emerson, Tituss Burgess and Bebe Neuwirth are also participating.

A 30-second version of the PSA will air nationally, with support from Comcast-NBCUniversal, and an extended version will run online.

Joel Goldman, managing director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, said his organization is “thrilled” to be partnering with GLAAD for this effort, noting that GLAAD was created “to respond to misinformation in the media about HIV and AIDS at a time when conversation in the zeitgeist about the epidemic was very high, but understanding of the virus was very low.”

Today, he continued, “it’s the opposite. Conversation about HIV and AIDS is barely discussed in individual circles and has comparatively fallen out of the news cycle. This is despite the fact that the U.S. has not seen a decrease in new infection rates in nearly two decades.”

GLAAD and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation announced the release of the PSA on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new statistical information regarding HIV among people aged 50 and over and regarding HIV among Hispanics/Latinos.

Here are some of the CDC numbers on HIV/AIDS and people over 50:

• In 2012, people aged 55 and older accounted for 24 percent — almost one quarter — of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in the U.S.

• In 2013, people aged 50 and over accounted for about 21 percent of the estimated 47,352 HIV diagnoses in the U.S. Of these, largest number — 44 percent — were among those ages 50-54. The majority of the HIV diagnoses in those ages 50-54 were in African-Americans (59 percent), followed by Hispanics/Latinos (23 percent).

• In 2013, people aged 50 and older accounted for 27 percent of the estimated 26,688 AIDS diagnoses in the U.S.

• Of the 6,955 deaths related to AIDS in 2013, 37 percent were among people aged 55 and older.

Now here are some of the CDC numbers on HIV and AIDS among Hispanics/Latinos:

• In 2013, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 23 percent of the estimated 48,145 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the U.S. and six dependent areas. Of those, 85 percent were in men.

• In 2013, gay, bi and other men who have sex with men accounted for 81 percent of the estimated HIV diagnoses among Hispanic/Latino men, and the annual number of diagnoses among Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men has increased 16 percent since 2008.

• Of the HIV diagnoses among Hispanic/Latina women in 2013, 86 percent were attributed heterosexual contact.

• In 2012, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 21 percent of the estimated 1.2 million people with HIV infection in the United States, and by the end of 2012, an estimated 125,051 Hispanics/Latinos with AIDS had died in the U.S. and the six dependent areas.

• In 2013, 13 percent of the 6,955 deaths related to AIDS in the U.S. were among Hispanics/Latinos.

—  Tammye Nash

Spirit Day: Go purple to take a stand against bullying

Today is Oct. 16. It’s also Spirit Day, when people everywhere are encouraged to “go purple” to take a stand against bullying. There’s even anspirit day selfie app for that: The Spirit Day App, powered by Toyota Financial Services, which provides anti-bullying resources, calls to action and lets you take a “selfie” then turn it purple and add an anti-bullying slogan. That’s my purple selfie right here in this post. I am also using it today as my profile pic on Facebook. I even remembered to wear my purple shirt today.

But see, here’s the day. It takes more that a purple shirt or a purple “selfie” to stop bullying. It takes more than paying attention just one day out of the year.

According to a study published in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 6 high school students have seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 have actually attempted suicide. Overall, the suicide rate among teens climbed from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 7.8 percent in 2011, reflecting the trend gaining national attention as more teen suicides are reported as a result of bullying.

I have two sons, both relatively well-adjusted, considering that they are teenage boys. But both of them have had to deal with some sort of bullying during their lives. The older one, — now almost 18 — got bullied in junior high because he was a “smart kid,” a “nerd” who wore glasses. The younger one, now 15, was the target of a whole gang of bullies throughout his fourth-grade school year because we bought a house in a new neighborhood and he had to go to a new elementary school. “New kids” often get bullied.

We were lucky. Our kids made it through and are OK. A lot of kids aren’t so lucky.

And we have to remember that in a time when social media infiltrates so much of our lives, bullying isn’t limited to the classroom or the playground. It can follow our kids home, into our own living rooms, into their own bedrooms. We have to find whole new ways to protect our children. And that takes more than wearing purple one day a year.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all for Spirit Day, for purple selfies and purples clothes. Things like that raise awareness, and change doesn’t happen without awareness. I am just asking that we all remember not to let it stop there.

If you have children, talk to them about bullying. Make sure they know they can come to you for help if someone is bullying them. And make sure they are not bullying anyone else. If you are a young person yourself and you are being bullied, don’t suffer in silence. Find someone who can help. If you can’t find someone, contact us here at Dallas Voice; we can connect you with the help you need.

And remember that bullying isn’t limited to children. Adults are bullied too: by coworkers, spouses, by someone at the gym or on the street.

When you see someone being bullied, step in. Do something to stop the abuse. Don’t turn away. You could be the one who makes the difference, who saves someone’s life.

 

—  Tammye Nash

The wingnuts speak on SCOTUS decision not to hear marriage case appeals

On Monday, Oct. 6, the national LGBT community rejoiced and wedding bells began to ring in 11 new marriage equality states when the Supreme Court of the United States announced it would not hear appeals of circuit court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in five states.

But for the right wing faction of the U.S., that ringing wasn’t wedding bells, but a death knell.

bryan-fischer

Bryan Fischer

Perhaps one of the most outrageous declarations came from Bryan Fisher, “director of issue analysis” for the so-called American Family Association. Fischer called the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the marriage appeals “the Dred Scott of gay marriage” and said that marriage equality is “as morally bankrupt and indefensible as the institution of slavery. Slavery ate away at America’s soul, and homosexual marriage will do the same thing, It is a deviant and grotesque caricature of the real thing. For this sexual debauchery to be normalized by the highest court in the land is a sign of the nation plunging headlong into a bottomless moral abyss.”

Jeremy Hooper, special projects consultant for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said that sometimes the best way to rebut what someone says is to get out of the way and just let them keep talking. So let me step aside and let the wingnuts speak. …

Right Wing Watch  rounded up responses from other wingnuts, including the Liberty Counsel, which issued a press release denouncing the Supreme Court’s “decision to watch marriage burn to ashes,” and accusing the justices of “dereliction of duty.”

Liberty Council Founder and Chairman Matt Staver declared, “Everyone will be affected by same-sex marriage because it is an intolerant agenda that will directly collide with religious freedom.”

The Family Research Council predicted that “more and more people [will] lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage,” adding that the Supreme Court’s decision “will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage. Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex ‘marriage’ on people will have negative consequences for our republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law.”

FRC did not that the court’s rejection of the appeals “ensures that the debate over natural marriage will continue and the good news is that time is not on the side of those who want to redefine marriage.”

The National Organization for Marriage called for passage of a national marriage amendment: “…the only alternative to letting unelected judges impose their view of marriage on Americans across the country is to pursue a process that will allow the American people to decide for themselves what is marriage. It is critical not only to marriage but to the republican form of government in this country to amend the Constitution to reaffirm the meaning of marriage. We therefore call on the US Congress to move forward immediately to send a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification.”

And Focus on the Family clamored that the decision will result in a “further expansion of threats to religious freedom.”

“Marriage has always been — and will always be — between a man and a woman. Ultimately, no court can change that truth,” Focus on the Family’s statement said. “So regardless of legal outcomes, we’ll continue to address the importance of one-man, one-woman marriage to families, society and especially for children who have a right to both a mother and a father. Our concern continues to be for children who deserve to grow up with both a mom and a dad, as well as for the religious freedom rights of people who strongly believe in God’s design for marriage and want to live consistently with those beliefs.”

Faith and Freedom Coalition called the decision a “miscarriage of justice” and warned that SCOTUS will “reap a political whirlwind.” And the Florida Family Policy Council’s John Stemberger warned that the court “risks losing enormous institutional legitimacy” by ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Here’s a video of Bryan Fischer and his declaration of how SCOTUS imposed “sodomy-based marriage” on 11 states that voted against it.

—  Tammye Nash

Is GLAAD’s evaluation of LGBT characters in movies accurate?

CLOUD ATLAS

‘Cloud Atlas,’ with out actor Ben Whishaw (right), was one of the most gay-positive films released last year — and one of two that starred Whishaw (‘Skyfall’ was the other)

GLAAD has always seemed, to me, a strange organization. On the plus side, they are a watchdog group that looks out for the interest of LGBT people, especially how they are portrayed in the media. They call out bullshit when they need to, and they give mainstream journalism a mirror to look at their own way of covering gay issues.

On the other hand, GLAAD has always been a little starstruck itself. It holds big awards ceremonies where it invites media elites and celebrities, even when such adulation doesn’t seem deserved. Back when Isaiah Washington made his first homophobic comment about T.R. Knight, GLAAD attacked him. It then got him to do a PSA on their behalf, and all was forgiven … until the next time he made a gay gaffe. Strange bedfellows, that business.

But I was surprised by the headline I woke up to this morning that GLAAD was giving a failing rating to Hollywood for only releasing 14 films with LGBT characters in them in 2012.

“How could this be?” I thought. “If that were the case, I’d dry up reviewing movies.  I see 14 gay-themed movies a month. What could they be talking about?”

Then I read deeper into the stories (you can see the entire report here). That 14 number reflects only the top 101 films released by six major Hollywood studios: Warners (Cloud Atlas, Rock of Ages), Paramount (Katy Perry: Part of Me, Fun Size, A Thousand Words), Columbia (Skyfall, 21 Jump Street, Think Like a Man, That’s My Boy), Universal (Pitch Perfect, Ted, American Reunion, The Five-Year Engagement), Disney (The Avengers) and Fox (none). And to me, both of those criteria — “major” (top-grossing) film from “major” (Big Six) studios provides a slanted view of the facts.

Maybe you didn’t see some films you remember seeing with positive gay characters — Perks of Being a Wallflower maybe, or ParaNorman? Cuz GLAAD didn’t count those, even though both turned in respectable grosses.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for coverage of Boy Scouts meeting in Grapevine

scouts

Supporters of lifting the ban on gay youth in the Boy Scouts will convene today for the first day of a three-day Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine.

At noon, Eagle Scout Dave McGrath and his son will arrive at the Great Wolf Lodge, 100 Great Wolf Drive, completing their 1,800 mile Bike for Equality campaign that began when they left Idaho Falls on May 3.

McGrath, Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls and Inclusive Scouting Network founder Mark Noel will address the audience.

Gay Scouts and leaders will then speak, including former Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, a gay dad removed from his position as Scoutmaster with his son’s troop, and Pascal Tessier, a gay Boy Scout who was told he would not be eligible to earn the Eagle award his older brother received.

Events for the summit will take place today at the Great Wolf Lodge in Fallen Timber A Meeting Room. They are expected to conclude around 2 p.m.

Across the street at the Gaylord Texan, where the roughly 1,400 members of the BSA’s National Council will vote on the resolution tomorrow, opponents of allowing gays Scouts will protest at Texas Values’ Save Our Scouts rally from noon to 4 p.m.

Dallas Voice will be in Grapevine to capture all the excitement and will be tweeting live from the press conferences and rally. Follow us on Twitter here.

Yesterday 20 members of Congress signed a letter supporting the resolution to welcome gay youth into the BSA. Among them was Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

“As part of its mission, the BSA seeks to instill traditionally American values of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of others in youth scouts in preparation for the responsibilities of citizenship,” the letter reads in part. “Today, BSA has a policy that excludes gay Scouts and Scout leaders from participating. This is counter to BSA’s mission to teach our youth to combat discrimination. We are pleased to learn that the National Council will soon take up a resolution at the May 22nd meeting to update its membership standards policy. We strongly urge the BSA to pass the proposed resolution to end discrimination against gay youth.”

Read the full letter here.

—  Dallasvoice

GLAAD announces nominees for 24th annual media awards

GLAAD announced the nominees for its 24th annual media awards. Presentation of awards takes place on March 16 in New York, April 20 in Los Angeles and May 11 in San Francisco.

Among this year’s nominees are Frank Ocean, Adam Lambert, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, ParaNorman, Cloud Atlas, Keep the Lights On, The New Normal, Smash, Modern Family, How to Survive a Plague and The Amazing Race.

In the category of Outstanding Film — Wide Release, the nominees are Cloud Atlas, ParaNorman, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Your Sister’s Sister.

Outstanding comedy series recognizes five shows from network TV — The New Normal (NBC), Glee (Fox), Go On (ABC) Modern Family (NBC) and Happy Endings (ABC).

Outstanding TV movie or mini-series is all cable — American Horror Story: Asylum (FX), Hit and Miss (DirecTV) and Political Animals (USA).

—  David Taffet

Dallas’ gay J.C. Penney dads offer company congrats on GLAAD award


Plano-based J.C. Penney received GLAAD’s Mainstream Market Award for advertising this week for the company’s Father’s day ad featuring local gay dads Cooper and Todd Koch.

The award was part of GLAAD’s Amplifier Awards that recognizes exceptional advertising and media representations of the LGBT community.

Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch were featured in the June ad, which sparked anti-gay hate group One Million Moms group to boycott the retail chain again.

Smith and Koch recorded a video with their kids Clarie and Mason congratulating the company on the award and thanking J.C. Penney for their inclusion of the LGBT community in their advertising.

To view a complete of nominees, go here.

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice