Feedback • 03.02.12

Column on gay Catholics misguided

While I am not a member of Dignity, I am a gay Roman Catholic and felt Phyllis Guest’s article titled “Efforts to resurrect local gay Catholic group are misguided” was both unnecessary, and showed a lack of a broader understanding of the diversity of the LGBT community. I take this article as a blatant attempt to promote anti-Catholic bigotry in the name of gay rights. Hate for whatever reason is unacceptable. While I respect Guest’s right to her personal opinion, that opinion in my opinion is misguided and unhelpful.

LGBT people of faith have shown that change is indeed possible. For us Catholics who are LGBT we understand the tension that exists between our Catholic leadership and gay rights/marriage equality. We understand our journey will be a difficult one at times putting our own comfort on the line for moving the envelop of change within the church. Using Guest’s opinion as a guiding example would she say the same of Catholic women should they also throw out the baby with the water in terms of their faith?

I think Guest needs to educate herself about the Catholic faith, and more to the point the history and vision of Dignity. Apparently she seems to think that evolution played no part in those other churches who openly welcome LGBT people. I think Guest does a disservice to our community when she promotes division over unity. GLBT Catholics are as an important part of this community as any other group, and we owe none an apology for practicing our faith.

I would encourage any Catholics who are LGBT in Dallas and want to restart a Dignity chapter there to do so. While I belong to another national Catholic LGBT organization you should know you are not alone and, in my opinion you not only have our support, but the support of gay Catholics in Dallas. Especially during this season of Lent, I encourage you on your faith journey.

Joe Murray

Executive Director 
Rainbow Sash Movement


Attacks on Leppert are reprehensible

Not only are the attacks on Tom Leppert reprehensible and repugnant, the whole holier-than-thou attitudes of Cruz, James and Pittenger are disgusting. I could name several sins I’m sure that these men and woman have committed that would disqualifies them from their finger-pointing.

Personally I believe Thomas Purdy is a little late in his thinking that the Log Cabin Republicans will “…ensure the Party of Abraham Lincoln remains so and does not become the Party of Anita Bryant. …” The Republican Party is already worse than Anita Bryant’s “Party” ever thought of being. Also, Rob Schlein’s statement that he’s changing support from Cruz to Tom Leppert because of the attack on Leppert is assinine. Leppert has demonstrated he’s as big a hypocrite as the others. How any gay person truly interested in preserving the rights of “the community” can support a Republican candidate for anything is definitely open to question.  I seriously doubt there would be any candidate of the Republican Party at this point who would be willing to step up for LGBT causes. Frankly, gay Republicans have their heads in the sand and I don’t understand it.

Daniel Prado


Guest article borders on hate speech

It’s disturbing to find that the Dallas Voice would publish something like Phyllis Guest’s attack on Jim Davis’ attempt to rebuild Dignity Dallas, and the Roman Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality.

All Mr. Davis seems to be doing is trying to build a community for like-minded people to be a part of.

As to the church, why single them out? It would be one thing if its views were unique among mainline Christian denominations. Unfortunately for the most part they are all the same. And though there are movements to make positive changes toward homosexuality in some, to the best of my knowledge no major church has been able to totally accomplish this goal.

She says she has nothing against the Roman Catholic Church. I’d suggest you couldn’t prove that from reading her column.

Attack speech like this boarders on hate speech, and I hope this is the last time I see anything like this appearing in the Voice.

Frank M. Stich

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Tulsa man attacked in anti-gay hate crime

Cody Rogers

Cody Rogers, an 18-year-old Tulsa man, was attacked over the weekend at a party at a friend’s house because he’s gay, according to a report on Tulsa’s Fox 23.

Oklahoma doesn’t have a hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation. Tulsa police are investigating the attack, during which Rogers lost consciousness, as an assault.

“It’s got to be extremely frustrating when you feel like you’ve been chosen, picked,” the Tulsa Police Department’s Jason Willingham told the TV station on Tuesday.

But changing hate crimes laws can only be done on a state level, Willinghman added.

Oklahoma is one of 19 states without such protections. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry signed a hate crimes bill that includes “sexual preference” into law his first year in office.

A Facebook page has been started to encourage Oklahoma to expand its hate crime law. Rogers said if that were to happen, that’s where his healing would begin.

The Fox 23 report follows after the jump:

—  David Taffet

Public input sought on non-discrimination amendment effort

Fairness Works Houston, a new organization formed to pass a proposed non-discrimination charter amendment in Houston, will hold a public meeting this Saturday, Feb. 25, to seek public input. As previously reported by Houstini, the proposed charter amendment, which is still being drafted, will remove discriminatory language added to the city charter in 1985 and 2001 and make it a crime to deny employment, housing or public accommodation to a person because of their “age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical characteristic.”

The meeting, scheduled for 1 pm at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) in rooms 112/113, looks to identify community resources that can be used both topass the amendment and to gather the 20,000 signatures that will be needed to place the amendment on the November ballot. Scheduled speakers include Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Jenifer Rene Poole who chairs the Caucus’ committee on the proposed amendment.

—  admin

Funeral scheduled for Albert Mata

Tim Brookover and Albert Mata

Albert Mata, the long-time partner of Houston GLBT Community Center president Tim Brookover, passed away on Monday, Feb. 20.

Albert was a vivacious man. I could always tell if Albert was at an event. His laughter would echo through the room the second I entered, inevitably emanating from the a tight circle of conversationalists over which he was holding court. Sweet, kind and a little naughty, Albert’s energy and gentleness will be greatly missed.

Services for Albert will be held at Bethel United Church of Christ (1107 Shepherd).

Visitation – 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, February 24, 2012
Memorial Service – 4 p.m., Saturday, February 25, 2012

—  admin

WATCH: Baptist minister calls gay couples ‘repulsive’ at mass wedding on Valentine’s Day

The Rev. Joe Sullivan

The Rev. Joe Sullivan, a Baptist minister, has been performing mass weddings on Valentine’s Day on the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse since 1989. After his remarks about same-sex couples this year, he may no longer be welcome, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

After receiving complaints from same-sex couples about the way Sullivan referred to them as repulsive and compared them to animals, County Judge Nelson Wolff called for the county to re-examine Sullivan’s participation in the annual event.

QSanAntonio reported on Valentines Day that Sullivan made disparaging remarks about the same-sex couples but had peculiar views about opposite-sex couples as well.

The LGBT site had this report from activist Julie Pousson who was at the San Antonio mass wedding:

“Minister Joe Sullivan said that our couples were there ‘solely to be repulsive,’ and he threatened them with acts of vengeance on the part of God if they did not leave the courthouse steps. Our beautiful couples stood their ground for more than five minutes of hate speech and contradictory logic from the good minister before he finally relented and performed the wedding. During his sermon, he told new wives to get up at 2 a.m. and bake lemon pies for their husbands, if that’s what they ask for. He told the men to buy their wives new cars if they ask for them . . . demonstrating that his bigotry is as wide as it is deep. This man does not represent our beautiful city. He does not represent any loving God.”

After the jump, video from the mass wedding ceremony:

—  David Taffet

Measure would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in Houston

Charter amendment could also allow DP benefits for city workers

DANIEL WILLIAMS  |  Contributing Writer

HOUSTON — Long-brewing plans to place a city-wide non-discrimination policy before Houston voters became public this week.

Since December a coalition of organizations and leaders have been working to draft a city charter amendment that would make it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment or public accommodations on the basis of  “age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical characteristic.”

The amendment would also remove anti-LGBT language added to the Houston city charter in 1985 and 2001 — which could allow the City Council to vote to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of municipal employees.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who famously became the only out LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city in 2009, has declined to comment on the proposed charter amendment until the language is finalized. She told the Houston Chronicle: “I believe it’s important for the city of Houston to send a signal to the world that we welcome everybody and that we treat everybody equally, and depending on the elements of what was actually in it, I might or might not support it,”

According to Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman, the prospect of Houston voters approving the non-discrimination amendment has ramifications for efforts to pass similar measures in the state Legislature.

“Nondiscrimination in Houston builds a better case for us when we go for nondiscrimination in Austin,” said Coleman. “To be able to tell representatives that they represent areas that already support these efforts is very helpful.”

The cities of Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth all already have similar nondiscrimination ordinances and offer DP benefits to employees.

But Houston’s form of governance makes this effort unique. While the City Council is empowered to pass city ordinances covering issues of discrimination, they can be overturned by popular vote if those opposing the ordinance collect 20,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

That was the case in 1985 after Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire pushed through the council the city’s first protections for gay and lesbian Houstonians (no protections were provided for the bisexual or transgender communities).

A coalition of right-wing voters led by Louie Welch, then president of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, was able to place the issue on a city-wide ballot, claiming the policy “promoted the homosexual lifestyle.” The group also recruited a “straight slate” of candidates to run against City Council members who had favored the protections, with Welch running against Whitmire.

The public vote on nondiscrimination was held in June 1985 and Welch’s forces prevailed, but the city’s temperament had changed by the time of the City Council and mayoral races in November. A comment of Welch’s that the solution to the AIDS crisis was to “shoot the queers” was aired on local TV and few in Houston wished to be associated with him after that. The “straight slate” failed to capture a single City Council seat and Whitmire remained mayor, but the defeat of the city’s nondiscrimination policy remained.

By 1998 Houston had changed: Annise Parker was serving as the city’s first out lesbian city council member and Houston boasted the state’s first out gay judge, John Paul Barnich. Mayor Lee Brown, sensing the change, issued an executive order protecting LGBT city employees from employment discrimination. But the city had not changed that much. Councilman Rob Todd led efforts to fight the order in court, arguing that since voters rejected city-wide protections from discrimination in 1985, it was inappropriate for the mayor to institute them without voter approval. The city spent the next three years defending the policy in court, finally emerging victorious.

The joy of that 2001 victory would be shortlived, however. That year Houston’s voters approved another amendment to the city charter, this time prohibiting the city from providing domestic partner benefits for city employees. In a narrow defeat, just over 51 percent of voters decided that the city should not offer competitive benefits.

The current proposed non-discrimination amendment would remove the language added in 1985 and 2001. While it would provide non-discrimination protections it would not require the city to offer benefits of any kind to the spouses of LGBT city employees, leaving that question back in the hands of the City Council.

The organizers of the current effort are confident that this year is the year for victory.

Noel Freeman, the president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, which is spearheading the effort, explains that the previous votes occurred in “non-presidential years,”when voter turnout in general is low, and conservative voters make up a larger percentage of the electorate.

Additionally, polling by Equality Texas in 2010 showed that 80 percent of Houstonians support employment protections for gay and lesbian people.

In order to place the non-discrimination amendment on the November ballot the coalition supporting it will need to collect 20,000 signatures of registered Houston voters and submit them to the city clerk. Freeman says that the final charter amendment language is still under consideration and that once it is finalized the group will begin collecting signatures.

Even former Councilman Todd, who once fought the city’s policy of non-discrimination for LGBT employees, supports the current effort.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Community rallies to support GLBT Community Center President

Tim Brookover

Last fall Tim Brookover, a long-time Houston LGBT activist and current president of the Houston GLBT Community Center, made public that he was undergoing treatment for cancer. Throughout his treatment Brookover has remained the vibrant advocate for LGBT people that Houston has always known him to be (he even started a cancer support group at the center). Brookover recently ended his employment in the office of Houston City Council member Sue Lovell and applied for disability.

While his application is pending the people of his long-time church home have decided to help. Bethel United Church of Christ (1107 Shepherd) will host a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for Brookover’s expenses this Sunday, Feb. 12, at noon. Ticket’s are $10 and include beverages and speghetti. RSVP via facebook.

—  admin

Houston one of 21 most “Lesbianish” cities according to

Another day, another list of queer cities written by someone out of state who clearly doesn’t understand just how awesome Houston is. This one from uses internet search results to determine the most “Lesbianish” cities in America. Two Texas cities make the grade: Austin at 10th and Houston at 18th (so Houstini’s Dallas Voice overlords can take their rainbow colored tower and stick it where the sun don’t shine).

From the article:

“Houston’s the largest city in the country with an openly gay mayor, the 12th most populated-with-gays US city and it’s also just one of the largest cities in the country, period. A string of unseemly governors have no powers against Houston’s thriving community and legendarily enormous Pride parade. Chances, one of the largest lesbian bars in the world, recently shut down; but there’s still drinks to be had at places like Blur, The Usual and F Bar and additional queer activities happening at the Houston LGBT Youth Center, The Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Houston’s LGBT film festival, QFest. Houston’s Rice University has a healthy queer community as well.”

—  admin

HUD adds LGBTs to housing rules

At the Creating Change Conference held in Baltimore Jan. 25–29, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced a new policy to fight discrimination. The new rules will be published this week and go into effect 30 days later.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

“Today, I am proud to announce a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose. This is an idea whose time has come,” he said.

The new rules increase protection against housing discrimination by:

• prohibiting owners and operators of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing from discriminating against an applicant or occupant of a residence based on sexual orientation or gender identity;

• prohibiting all lenders offering Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages from considering sexual orientation or gender identity in determining a borrower’s eligibility; and

• clarifying the definition of “family” to ensure that otherwise eligible participants in any HUD programs will not be excluded based on marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

“I’m here this afternoon because our president and his administration believe the LGBT community deserves a place at the table — and also a place to call home. Each of us here knows that rights most folks take for granted are routinely violated against LGBT people,” Donovan said. “That’s why I’m proud to stand before you this afternoon and say HUD has been a leader in the fight — your fight and my fight — for equality. Over the last three years, we have worked to ensure that our housing programs are open. Not to some. Not to most. But open to all.”

The new regulations result from HUD under Donovan collecting data to better understand how same-sex couples suffer housing discrimination. His department has already worked to protect LGBT people under the Fair Housing Act.

Donovan is the first sitting cabinet secretary to address Creating Change.

This was the 24th Creating Change, the country’s largest annual gathering of LGBT rights advocates, staged annually by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Video of Donovan’s speech follows the jump:

—  David Taffet

And the nominees for the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards are …not Dallas Voice

Today, GLAAD announced its 23rd annual media nominees covering ground from movies to television to journalism. Texas didn’t get a whole lot of love this time (does it ever?), but it did get in. For the Outstanding TV Journalism – News Magazine category, local NBC affiliate KXAS TV-5 snagged a nomination for its “GLBT in Texas” Spotlight DFW series which even had a segment devoted to the Dallas Voice. So, we’re kinda in.

For Outstanding Music Artist, San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma is in fine company with fellow nominees, MEN, Lady Gaga, Hunx and his Punx and Beverly McClellan. GIAC was nominated for its 2011 release, Exits and All the Rest.

The A-List: Dallas did not get a nod for Outstanding Reality Program.

For a complete list of nominees, click here or watch the trailer after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez