Don’t forget the thrilling season finale of “The A-List: Dallas,” with guest star Ann Coulter

For those who love to hate A-List: Dallas, you’ll either be sad or glad to see the show’s season come to an end tonight. And by the previews, boy does it. Taylor Garrett needles at the community with his friendly exchange with conservative pundit Ann Coulter. Castmate Chase Hutchison is naturally infuriated but then also has to deal with Garrett lip-locking on his sorta beau Levi Crocker. As the season comes to a close, I’m fascinated that we never got to see the incident that happened at Jack’s Backyard. Remember this whole to-do?

I tweeted a couple of the A-Listers about what to expect on tonight’s episode. Hutchison was kind enough to reply.

“Tonight’s episode is definitely going to piss a lot of people off, including myself,” he tweeted back. “Everything comes to a head tonight; relationships, politics, friendships… And having Ann Coulter being part of the show was enough to make my blood boil with Taylor. But I do like that very different views are being shown, as much as some of those views disgust me. It will be worth watching for sure.”

Fellow reality star, Drew Ginsburg from Bravo’s Most Eligible Dallas chimed in as well with his response to tonight’s episode.

“Supporting Ann Coulter is a like a Jew supporting the Nazis,” he tweeted.

The Hayyy List is hosting a watch party tonight with cast member James Doyle at Axiom Sushi, or you can seethe or snicker on your own. Either way, here’s the preview clip after the jump to get you going before tonight’s episode.

 

—  Rich Lopez

What’s Shakin’ – Wings of Desire at MFAH, IRS to allow deductions for gender transition

Wings of Desire1. If you’re a fan of German films that are partially in French, the film oeuvre of Peter Faulk and sexy trapeze artists with existential angst then “Wings of Desire” is your kind of flick.  The 1987 Wim Wenders masterpiece tells the story of an Angel (Bruno Ganz) who, after watching humanity since the dawn of time, desires to become human so he can be with the woman he loves. “Wings of Desire” screens tonight at 7 pm at the Museum of Fine Art Houston (1001 Bissonnet).

2. Transgender Americans who undergo hormone therapy or receive gender realignment surgery may now be able to deduct the costs of those treatments on their taxes. According to GLAD, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the IRS has issued an “action on decision” statement saying that the agency will acquiesce to an appeals court ruling allowing the deductions. GLAD cautions that medical deductions can still be audited and encourages anyone planning to deduct cost of transition medical expenses to rigorously document the medical necessity of treatments and consult with a tax professional when preparing return

3. Election day is tomorrow. If you’re one of the 58,345 people in Harris County who voted early, then good for you.  If not, you’ll want to visit HarrisVotes.org and find out where to go to cast your ballot.  Polls open at 7 am on Tuesday and close at 7 pm sharp.

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Wolfman at Wortham, Vampires on Pacific St.

The Wolfman1. If you got your hard-core Halloween partying out of the way this weekend, why not curl up under the stars (and a blanket) for the 1941 horror classic “The Wolfman,” at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Herman Park. Show starts at 7:30 pm. In this version the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.) has an estranged father, frequents antique stores, caries an ornate walking stick for no particular reason and (of course) engages in nocturnal behavior of a hairy and bestial sort. Sounds like some of my friends. Admission is free, but prime spots on the lawn fill up quickly so arrive early.

2. If you didn’t get your hard-core partying out of the way then you’ll be glad to know that the clubs of Pacific street are still going strong. JR’s Bar‘s “Anytheme Goes” party (808 Pacific) and Meteor‘s “True Blood” festivities (2306 Genesee) continue tonight with a costume contests at 11 pm, while South Beach‘s “Twilight” fete (810 Pacific) waits till midnight for its contest . Cash prizes are up for grabs at all three for best costume, best couple or group and most outrageous costume.

3. Broadway World reports that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D – NY, plans to introduce the Senate companion to the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, D – CA, last May. The bill would remove barriers to otherwise qualified LGBT parents servings as foster parents or adopting. “By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York City has increased its foster parent pool by nearly 26,000 prospective parents,” said Gillibrand. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.” So far only three of Texas’ thirty-two congressional representatives, including Houston’s own Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, have signed on as cosponsors.

 

—  admin

Defining Homes • Ask the EXPERTS

With the economy still in a wicked mess, reports are that the latest trend in homebuying is not buying. Renters are on the rise. But are they? Real estate source Inman reported in January that it is cheaper to buy in the majority of the country’s larger cities. Keith Jurow reported last year on World Property Channel that a Harris Interactive survey found renting a better option. So which is it? We asked locals in the industry how the trends are swaying the Dallas housing market and the frustrations behind them.

……………………

Michael Litzinger

Michael Litzinger
William Davis Realty Uptown

The trend has affected my business significantly. The firm I recently moved to seems to be more in tune with today’s market. Their streamlined, online process requires less paperwork which makes it better for the client, a much quicker turn around for me and better for the environment.

Leasing does move property these days, and I am just glad the industry moves in some fashion whether it’s leasing or selling.

I do think the trend has affected us locally somewhat, but not nearly as severely as in most other areas. I still feel good about the Dallas market.  I know Realtors in other areas that can’t say the same.

Buyers are decreasing to some degree. Even with low interest rates, I’ve had a lot of buyers come to me and then disappear.

 

……………………

Derrick Dawson

Derrick Dawson
Texas Pride Realty

As an active and producing Realtor also working in property management, I’d say the rental trend has picked up significantly, but that doesn’t mean it’s been ideal for property renters/owners or for the multi-family industry. The rental market has been stable but faces some challenges based on broken leases due to financial hardship or unemployment. Many are playing it safe by downsizing or combining rental homes based on economic conditions, being fearful of keeping their jobs and saving for the future.
Today is a buyer’s market and an ideal time to get out of the rent race. The downfall to the buyer’s market that I have seen personally is buyers and investors taking advantage of desperate people in today’s markets, possibly causing detriment to individuals or families in their time of need but also bringing down values in those areas making it harder for others to sell.

 

……………………

Dan Flynn

 

Dan Flynn
Dave Perry-Miller InTown

The trend of leasing over buying has changed the way I preview properties in my area. Leasing is so hot now, I’ve looked at rentals and try to know the different apartment communities close by. Now I am much faster to respond to leasing needs.

I process far more leases to build my future list of clients. I try to educate and prepare them for the buying process down the road. Using a Realtor to find the perfect place to lease makes a lot of sense for those wanting to buy in the future but also for those who don’t really want to do the legwork.

I recently represented a seller who could not sell his property for the amount he was hoping for. Finding qualified buyers in his market and price range wasn’t easy. Another Realtor’s client was interested in leasing the property so

I had to have that conversation with my seller. The seller decided to go with the lease. While sales are still going strong, leasing has increased. While this really is the time to buy, I think all the media attention scares buyers. Potential buyers need to know that the market is stable here and we are one of the cities leading the nation in sales right now.  Go buy a house now or pay more for it later both in price and interest rates.

……………………

Keith M. Thomas

Keith M. Thomas
1111 Apartment Locators

Although the economy has definitely affected us here, it is worse in other areas of the country. Dallas continues to grow and so I feel the trend’s impact on Dallas has been positive.

My company is a fully licensed real estate brokerage company and we handle all residential and commercial real estate transactions yet, our primary business is apartment locating. We want to maintain focus on renters, but we’ve created strategic partnerships with other real estate companies and have a referral program with them. We work closely with our clients to help with all of their real estate needs.

For homes that have reasonable mortgages there is good news. In Dallas, the rental market has significantly gone up, especially from 2010 to present to a  94-97 percent occupancy rate.

Buyers become renters for two reasons: First, they are able to get a nicer home for a lower monthly payment. And second, it doesn’t make sense to buy unless you’re planning to stay. However, buyers are increasing, oddly enough. MetroTex Association of Realtors reported that last August 2010 there were 1,223 properties sold and this August 2011 there were 1,485.

It’s a landlords’ market. Rents are at a premium and good ones go fast. When I show my clients rentals, they want to think about it, I encourage them to act quickly, because the unit is gone within a day or two. Why should homeowners take a loss on waiting for a qualified buyer, when they can rent quickly and hold out for the market to improve?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Is NY the Stonewall of marriage equality?

Activists in other states look to capitalize on momentum

DANA RUDOLPH | Keen News Service

Hundreds of same-sex couples married in New York on Sunday, the first day they could legally do so. And just as the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969 gave a lift to the nascent movement for equal rights for gays across the country, marriage equality in the Empire State appears to be giving a boost to marriage equality efforts outside its borders.

Activists in at least two states (Maine and Colorado) are pushing for 2012 ballot measures to seek marriage equality there, a lawsuit has been launched in New Jersey for full marriage rights, and in Maryland, a Democratic governor is prepared to follow the example of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, in leading the state legislature to marriage equality.

With the addition of New York, the percentage of same-sex couples living in states that allow them to marry has now more than doubled—from 6.9 percent to 14.3 percent, according to an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey by the Williams Institute of UCLA.

And the percentage of the U.S. population living in a state that allows same-sex couples to marry has more than doubled, from 5.1 to 11.4 percent, according to Census 2010 and the Williams Institute.

“Having New York end marriage discrimination is a turning point for the country,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of the national Freedom to Marry group, in an essay on the group’s Web site June 27, three days after Cuomo signed a marriage equality bill into law. “The world watches New York, and, as New Yorkers say, if we can make it here, we’ll make it anywhere.”

Wolfson noted that passage of the bill in New York was the first time a legislative chamber with a Republican majority — the state Senate — had “voted to advance a bill to end marriage discrimination, and Republican senators provided the winning margin.” He called the bipartisan vote “a major shift in the national political calculus for both parties” that “points the way to more victories.”

The New York Legislature was also the first to pass a marriage bill without first passing civil unions or domestic partnerships, Wolfson said.

In New Jersey, which allows same-sex couples to enter civil unions, but not marriages, Steven Goldstein, the chair of the LGBT advocacy organization Garden State Equality, said in a statement June 24 that “the victory in New York, and its choice of marriage equality over civil union inequality, set the stage for our continuing fight for marriage for same-sex couples in New York’s sister state just a mile away.”

Four days after the New York bill became law, Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal, a national LGBT legal group, filed a lawsuit in a New Jersey Superior Court in Trenton on behalf of seven same-sex couples. They argue that the state’s existing civil union laws do not provide the couples with full equality—an equality the state Supreme Court said, in October 2006, is guaranteed by the state constitution.

Garden State Equality also held a rally on July 24, the first day of the New York marriages, at a New Jersey park closest to New York, with a view of the Manhattan skyline across the Hudson River.

In Maryland, where a marriage equality bill passed the state House but failed to pass the Senate in March, Gov. Martin O’Malley seems now to be following the example of Cuomo, saying he will take a more active role in pushing for marriage equality next session.

Cuomo, whom Freedom to Marry’s Wolfson called the “indispensable champion” of the New York bill, had worked closely with marriage equality advocates and sent the initial version of the marriage bill to the Legislature. He then met with legislative leaders to work out a final version of the bill that addressed some lawmakers’ concerns about additional protections for religious groups and the charities and educational institutions they operate.

Maryland’s O’Malley announced July 22 that he would sponsor marriage equality legislation in the 2012 legislative session. He tasked his director of legislative affairs, Joseph Bryce, with coordinating efforts among a broad coalition of LGBT, civil rights, and faith-based groups, as well as people across the state.

O’Malley said at a press conference that the law provides equal protection and the free exercise of religion to all, adding “Other states have found a way to protect both of these fundamental beliefs.”

And in Maine, the executive director of Equality Maine, Betsy Smith, said in a statement June 28 that the “victory in New York generates wind in the sails of the national movement to win marriage, and more specifically, of our efforts here in Maine.”

EqualityMaine and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) announced June 30 that they are taking steps to place a citizen’s initiative on the November 2012 ballot, asking Maine voters to approve a law giving same-sex couples the right to marry. The move comes after a referendum in November 2009 overturned a marriage equality law passed by the legislature and signed by Governor John Baldacci (D) in May 2009.

Colorado may also see a question on its 2012 ballot to approve marriage equality. The state Title Board on July 20 approved language for such a question. Supporters of marriage equality must now collect 86,105 signatures in order to place it on the ballot.

Similar measures could also appear in California and Oregon.

An exception to the trend comes in Minnesota, where the legislature has approved a ballot question that seeks to ban marriage of same-sex couples under the state constitution. It is already banned under state law. The same could happen in North Carolina, where the legislature is considering bills for such a ballot measure.

Cuomo, in a press conference after he signed the marriage equality bill, called New York “a beacon for social justice,” noting that the movements for equally for women, for protection of workers, for preservation of the environment, and for equality of gays each have roots in New York.

“New York,” he said, “made a powerful statement, not just for the people of New York, but the people all across this nation.”

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  John Wright

Neither side happy with civil unions in R.I.

Karen Loewy

While Equality Delaware called the signing of Delaware’s new civil union bill on Wednesday historic, activists in Rhode Island said a civil union compromise would make gays and lesbians second-class citizens in that state.

According to the Providence Journal, opponents and proponents of same-sex marriage were united in their opposition to a civil union bill for Rhode Island.

Supporters of a marriage equality bill are frustrated. Rhode Island is the only New England state that hasn’t passed a marriage bill (although Maine’s was repealed). Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox is gay and in November voters elected David Ciccilline, former mayor of Providence, as the fourth openly gay member of Congress. And the state already recognizes marriages performed elsewhere.

Karen Loewy, a Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders attorney, said, “Nothing short of marriage is equality for Rhode Island’s gay and lesbian citizens and their children. By citing DOMA, Speaker Fox lets the federal government set the standard for discrimination and sells out the gay community for the sake of political expediency. DOMA’s days are numbered as it comes under increasing legal and political attack.”

With civil unions, if the federal Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples in Rhode Island would continue to be treated as second-class citizens federally, Loewy said.

Since same-sex marriages from out of state are recognized in Rhode Island, and because the state is so small, anyone in Rhode Island can drive less than 20 miles to a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

Delaware became the fourth state with civil unions  — in addition to Illinois, Hawaii and New Jersey. Four — California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — have domestic partnerships.

Smaller packages of protections have passed in Maryland, Maine, Colorado and Wisconsin.

Five states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire plus the District of Columbia — have marriage equality.

—  David Taffet

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 04.08

He’ll keep a ‘Light’ on for you
Last year, Jake Heggie brought people back to the opera with the world premiere of his adaptation of Moby Dick. The gay composer works his magic with another world premiere, but for one night only. He and Gene Scheer debut their song cycle A Question of Light, performed by Nathan Gunn, as part of
Unveil: The Dallas Opera 2011 Gala.
DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2301 Flora Way. 8 p.m. $75. DallasOpera.org/gala

 

Saturday 04.09

This comedy isn’t down the tubes
As the Dweeb Girls, rock band The Surly Bitches or pseudo country music sensations Euomi and Wynotta Spudd, comedy team Dos Fallopia works hard for the laughs. The “kamikaze comedy team” of Peggy Platt and Lisa Koch have been at this for 25 years and bring the funny to Fort Worth.
DEETS: Youth Orchestra Hall, 4401 Trail Lake Drive. 8 p.m. $20­–$40. OpenDoorProductionsTx.com.

 

Sunday 04.10

Get hallucinating with ‘Alice’
Nouveau 47 amps up last year’s production of the Lewis Carroll classic by adding more of his work in Alice in Wonderland & Other Hallucinations. We’re glad we get to partake in theater that acts as an hallucinogen rather than taking a pill. So much easier.
DEETS: The Magnolia Lounge, 1121 First Ave. Through April 23. Nouveau47.com

—  John Wright

GLAD Files Second Suit Against Federal DOMA for Married Couples in Three More States

And the word is now official. Via Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD):

Today Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed its second major, multi-plaintiff lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the government’s denial of protections and responsibilities to married gay and lesbian couples. Today’s action specifically addresses married couples in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and comes on the heels of GLAD’s Massachusetts Federal District Court ruling this summer finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional.

“DOMA must fall. In 1996, when Congress passed DOMA, the stated goal was to harm gay people and same-sex families with this law, and sadly, it has succeeded. Married gay and lesbian couples fall through the federal safety nets that exist for other married people,” said Mary L. Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director for GLAD. “We have to keep the pressure on and get DOMA off the books before it does even more harm.”

In Pedersen et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, GLAD represents five married same-sex couples and a widower who have all been denied federal rights and protections simply because they are married to a person of the same sex.

“Getting married was extremely meaningful to Ann and me,” said Joanne Pedersen, who, with her spouse Ann Meitzen, is a plaintiff. “We were shocked to discover that the federal government essentially looks on ours as a second-class marriage.”

Filed today in Federal District Court in Connecticut, this suit addresses DOMA’s denial of marriages in connection with federal employees and retirees benefits programs, Social Security benefits, survivor benefits under federal pension laws, work leave to care for a spouse under the Family Medical Leave Act, and state retiree health insurance benefits that are controlled by federal tax law. Several plaintiffs who have paid additional federal income taxes because they cannot file a joint federal tax return as a married couple will join the suit once they are officially turned down for refunds from the IRS.

More below the fold.

Also today, the American Civil Liberties Union, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, and the New York Civil Liberties Union, filed a different lawsuit challenging DOMA, Windsor v. USA.

“Every day that DOMA stands, it arbitrarily divides married couples into two categories,” said Gary D. Buseck, GLAD’s Legal Director. “And the extra burdens that DOMA has imposed on Massachusetts families since 2004 are now being endured by families in Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.”

Passed in 1996, DOMA Section 3, now codified at 1 U.S.C. section 7, limits the marriages the federal government will respect to those between a man and a woman. Section 2 of DOMA — not at issue in GLAD’s lawsuit — allows states to establish public policies about what marriages they will and will not respect.

In both Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management, GLAD’s earlier DOMA case, and now in Pedersen, GLAD argues that DOMA Section 3 violates the federal constitutional guarantee of equal protection. GLAD also contends that DOMA Section 3 is an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into the law of marriage, always considered the province of the states.

While Pedersen v. OPM focuses on certain federal programs, DOMA Section 3 cuts across virtually every area of federal law. Married same-sex couples cannot, for example, rely on the protections accorded to military families to provide for their spouses, or sponsor a foreign spouse to reside in this country.

Each of the plaintiffs in Pedersen was qualified for and applied for a spousal benefit or protection like other spouses. However, because the relevant agencies had no choice but to apply DOMA, and DOMA prohibits any federal recognition of the lawful marriages of gay and lesbian couples, all the protections were denied.

The current plaintiffs in Pedersen v. OPM are the following:

Joanne Pedersen (57) and Ann Meitzen (60) of Connecticut have been together for 12 years, and were married in 2008. Joanne, a retiree from the Department of Naval Intelligence, is unable to put Ann, who has serious and chronic lung conditions, on her health insurance plan.

Jerry Passaro (45) of Connecticut was married in 2008 to Tom Buckholz, his partner of 13 years. Tom died two months later of lymphoma. While still grieving, Jerry discovered that because of DOMA, Tom’s employer could not provide him survivor benefits on Tom’s pension. He has also been denied Social Security death benefits.

Raquel Ardin (56) and Lynda DeForge (54) of Vermont have been together for over 30 years, and were married in 2009 by Raquel’s 89-year-old father, who lives with them. Lynda, a postal employee, was denied family medical leave to care for Raquel, who needs regular and painful injections into her neck because of a military service-connected injury. Lynda could not use FMLA to care for Raquel after knee surgery this year.

Janet Geller (64) and Jo Marquis (70) of New Hampshire have been together for 31 years and were married in May 2010. Both are retired schoolteachers. Jan is unable to receive a health benefit from Jo’s retiree plan because of DOMA, which places additional financial burdens on them during their retirement.

Two other couples will soon be added to the case.

Suzanne (39) and Geraldine (40) Artis of Connecticut have been together for 17 years and married in 2009. They have three school-aged sons. Suzanne is a school librarian. Geraldine, a teacher by profession, has recently undergone three back surgeries and is unable to work. They pay at least 00 more in income taxes each year because of DOMA.

Bradley Kleinerman (47) and James “Flint” Gehre (44) of Connecticut have been together for 19 years and married in 2009. They have three sons that they adopted after serving as foster parents. Flint, a former police officer and teacher, is now a stay-at-home dad, while Brad works in human resources. Because of DOMA, they pay at least 00 more in income taxes each year.

GLAD’s legal team in Pedersen is led by Mary L. Bonauto and GLAD Legal Director Gary D. Buseck, with Staff Attorneys Janson Wu and legal fellows Liz Monnin-Browder and Ashley Dunn. Co-operating counsel on the case include Sullivan & Worcester LLP (Boston), Jenner & Block LLP (Washington, DC), and Horton, Shields & Knox (Hartford).

More information about the case, including the complaint and biographical information about the plaintiffs can be found at www.glad.org/doma.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

DOMA facing new legal challenges from GLAD and ACLU

Two lawsuits will be filed against DOMA today from two of the best organizations fighting for basic civil rights: The ACLU and GLAD. Given the lack of promised action from the Obama administration and Congress, the courts are probably our best route to equality for the time being. And, these new cases give the Obama administration’s Department of Justice two more opportunities to defend DOMA:

Ms. Pedersen and Ms. Meitzen plan to file a lawsuit Tuesday against the government in an effort to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples.

They are plaintiffs in one of two lawsuits being filed by the legal group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a gay rights legal organization based in Boston, and by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A similar challenge by the gay rights legal group resulted in a ruling in July from a federal judge in Boston that the act is unconstitutional. The Obama administration is appealing that decision.

The two new lawsuits, which involve plaintiffs from New York, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, expand the attack geographically and also encompass more of the 1,138 federal laws and regulations that the Defense of Marriage Act potentially affects — including the insurance costs amounting to several hundred dollars a month in the case of Ms. Pedersen and Ms. Meitzen, and a 0,0000 estate tax payment in the A.C.L.U. case.

Both cases will be announced via separate press conferences today at 11 AM ET.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

GLAD To Launch Second DOMA Suit

Tomorrow the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) will launch a DOMA lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of a Connecticut lesbian couple. Earlier this year, GLAD won a similar suit in Massachusetts in a ruling that the Obama administration is appealing. The New York Times reports:

Joanne Pedersen tried to add her spouse to her federal health insurance on Monday. She was rejected. Again. The problem is that while Ms. Pedersen is legally married to Ann Meitzen under Connecticut law, federal law does not recognize same-sex unions. So a health insurance matter that is all but automatic for most married people is not allowed for them under federal law. Ms. Pedersen and Ms. Meitzen plan to file a lawsuit Tuesday against the government in an effort to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples.

GLAD will be issuing a press release on the new lawsuit tomorrow.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin