GOP frontrunner Rick Perry tries to assure social conservatives that the gay rumors aren’t true

Gov. Rick Perry

In an apparent reference to longstanding rumors that he’s gay, Texas Gov. Rick Perry assured a group of influential social conservatives over the weekend that “there is nothing in my life that will embarrass you if you decide to support me for president,” according to this report from the Texas Tribune.

Perry spoke during a private gathering in Texas’ Hill Country attended by hundreds of social conservatives including several prominent anti-gay bigots, such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. The gathering was organized by David Barton, the WallBuilders founder and so-called “Christian historian” who recently suggested that four Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of same-sex marriage in New York should be scalped.

According to the Tribune, those in attendance asked Perry about a range of hot-button social issues, including abortion, immigration, gay marriage and hate crimes. Perry’s wife, Anita, was even asked whether she shares her husband’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage, to which she replied that she does. From The Tribune:

While job creation is the chief campaign message, winning evangelical voters is a major part of Perry’s nomination strategy. Polls show they make up some 40 percent of the electorate in some states, and social conservatives are expected to play a huge role in the outcome of the race in first-test Iowa, where Perry is giving native daughter Michele Bachmann a run for her money. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained minister, won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

Research published last weekend by the Palm Beach Post shows that “white, born again evangelicals” also make up more than a third of the vote in the GOP electorate in Florida, a key state that is expected to draw a lot of attention from Perry.

Perkins, the Family Research Council president, said religious conservatives will increasingly become comfortable with the Texas governor once they get to know him and examine his record in detail.

“I think he has the answers that are satisfactory when those issues are brought up,” Perkins said. “I think he is addressing them with the leaders in that community and as that information disseminates, I think he will be fine.”

—  John Wright

WHAT’S BREWING: Equality becoming Republican problem, hate crimes and Miley’s middle finger up

Gov. Rick Perry

1. A new study shows that it’s becoming more tricky for Republicans to oppose same-sex marriage, as Gov. Rick Perry found recently. According to the Washington Post, it used to be that you were either for it or against it. Now, as more states legalize equality and polls show more than half of all Americans support equality, it’s a net gain for politicians to support equality as well.

2. As more people support equality, hate crimes against the LGBT community, including murder, also increased last year. USA Today reports biased-based crimes were up 13 percent. Although 61 percent did not report the crimes to the police, more than half of those who did found indifferent attitudes from the police. Offenders were mostly strangers and were mostly white, heterosexual men.

3. The LA Times reports that an ally of the LGBT community has added a new symbol of support. Miley Cyrus has a new tattoo — an equal sign — on her middle finger.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Dedication of memorial garden for LGBT crime victims in Houston’s Montrose

Photo by Brandon Wolf (via Montrose Memorial Garden on Facebook)

The Houston Press reports:

Last night, throngs of people bearing candles filled an empty parking lot in Montrose, just off the main gay bar drag of Pacific Street. A block or two from here, Paul Broussard was murdered in 1991. Aaron Scheerhoorn was stabbed to death outside a nearby nightclub just half a year ago.

The list of GLBT-identified victims slain in this area is long: at least 35 since 1979, according to a list compiled by the Aaron Scheerhoorn Foundation for Change. Last night, politicians, GLBT allies, and parents and friends of murdered children gathered to remember them.

Charles Armstrong, owner of four gay nightclubs in the area and controversial subject of our cover story “Mayor of Montrose,” provided a landscaped corner of his parking lot for the Montrose Remembrance Garden. There, a Texas lilac tree of the “Montrose purple” variety was planted by Scheerhoorn’s foundation in memory of all victims.

Instant Tea contributor Daniel Williams reports at his Legislative Queery blog that speakers at the dedication included Texas Sens. John Whitmire, Mario Gallegos and Rodney Ellis, and State Rep. Garnet Coleman:

All four spoke at length about the decade long fight that led Texas to pass hate crimes legislation in 2001, and about the anti-bullying and teen suicide prevention bills passed this session by the legislature. Only Garnet Coleman mentioned Texas’ hate crimes statute still excludes the transgender community (an omission he has tried to correct).

Watch video from the dedication below. To view more photos, go here.

—  John Wright

Equality Texas wants parole board to reverse decision, keep gay man’s killer behind bars

Paul Broussard

Equality Texas is calling on people to write letters to Texas parole officials asking them not to release Jon Buice, who brutally murdered gay Houston banker Paul Broussard in 1991. The state parole board voted last week to release Buice, who has served less than half of his 45-year sentence, over the objections of Broussard’s mother, as well as groups including Equality Texas and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. But Equality Texas says the parole board’s vote isn’t final:

Though the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has granted Buice’s parole as of July 1, there is still time for us to reverse the decision. Parole decisions are made based on several factors, one of them being public input. This is where we need your help: let the State of Texas know that a homophobic, hate-filled murderer deserves to spend more than half of his sentence in prison.

Your help is necessary in the fulfillment of justice; the more letters we send the State of Texas, the more they’ll know just how angry we all are.

To send a letter, go here.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Broussard’s killer again up for parole

Here we go again.

Jon Buice, the only one of 10 suspects who’s still behind bars for the legendary 1991 hate-crime murder of Paul Broussard in Houston, is up for parole for the fifth time in the last decade.

And Nancy Rodriguez, Broussard’s mother, has again traveled to Texas from her home in Georgia to testify against Buice, who stabbed Broussard to death outside a Montrose nightclub almost exactly 20 years ago.

And Ray Hill, a longtime Houston gay-rights activist who helped solve Broussard’s murder, is again ironically arguing that it’s time for Buice to be released.

This time, however, Rodriguez reportedly has some new ammunition — evidence of 10 disciplinary cases filed against Buice while he’s been in prison, including an inappropriate relationship with a female chaplain.

“We have more ammunition than I’ve ever dreamed of,” said crime victims’ advocate Andy Kahan. “It’s almost like the parole gods looked upon us and said, ‘Here’s a gift.'”

Mom on Son’s Killer: Don’t Let Him Out:

—  John Wright

Remembering Fred Martinez: ‘Two Spirits’ tells story of a murdered Navajo boy

‘Two Spirit’ — Fred Martinez

There’s been some talk here on Instant Tea this week about the documentary Out in America and whether or not KLRU, the PBS channel in Austin, would air it during Gay Pride Month. I am proud of the LGBTs in Austin — especially Meghan Stabler — for speaking out and getting KLRU to add the film to its Jun line-up.

But it seems that there is another important documentary that may have gotten a bit overlooked in the meantime. It’s called Two Spirits, and it weaves the story of a 16-year-old Navajo boy, Fred Martinez, who was murdered because of his feminine ways, and the history of many Native American tribes who considered what we now call LGBT people to be  gifted individuals who had an honored place in society. They called them “two spirits.” You can watch a trailer for the film below.

—  admin

Montrose bar patron attacked with baseball bat

A man leaving a bar in Houston’s heavily gay Montrose area was badly beaten by a suspect wielding a baseball bat last weekend. OutSmart reports that the 46-year-old victim, who asked not to be identified, suffered two broken arms, numerous bruises, and a head wound that required 14 staples to close. The suspect remains at large, and the victim said there was another similar beating in the area about a month ago. Police aren’t currently treating last weekend’s incident as a hate crime but say their investigation remains open. From OutSmart:

The attack, which occurred on Sunday night near the corner of Crocker St. and Fargo St., was witnessed by several people. …

“He didn’t say anything, he just put his bat in his hand and had this look in his eyes like, ‘I’m gonna kill you,’ ” said the man, who wanted to remain anonymous. “He started swinging and I started running.” …

The victim, who remains at home and is estimated to take six weeks to two months to recover, said he knows of at least one other similar attack which occurred in the same area about a month ago.

“He’s out there at night waiting for someone to come walking down the street after the bar closes,” he said, “and he’ll jump out and hit them.”

—  John Wright

Temple police say victim not cooperating in their investigation of alleged anti-gay hate crime

Adrian Lopez

We received an update this morning from Temple Police spokesman Sgt. Brad Hunt on the investigation into last week’s alleged anti-gay hate crime at Temple Lake Park. Adrian Lopez, 23, of Killeen told Instant Tea that a group of teenagers attacked him and two friends at the park last Wednesday after learning that the three were gay. But Hunt said that Lopez isn’t cooperating with police and the department plans to drop the case if this doesn’t change. We’ve left messages for Lopez, and we’ll update as soon as he gets back to us. For now, here’s Hunt’s update:

“The Temple Police Department’s investigation  into the alleged assault has reached a point that requires cooperation from the victim. After numerous attempts to communicate and coordinate meetings with the victim, he has failed to be responsive to investigators’ requests. However, it is clear that the victim instead continues to contact media outlets about the case,  and it appears he is more interested in speaking to media than police about the offense.

“Should the victim  fail to cooperate and meet with investigators, the Department will have no choice but to close the case.  The victim is being informed of this fact this week.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Fairness Fort Worth criticizes police handling of apparent anti-gay hate crime

Tom Anable

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. LGBT advocates in Fort Worth say they’re troubled by the Police Department’s handling of an apparent anti-gay hate crime on May 23 in south Fort Worth, which we first told you about last Friday. As we reported this Monday, Fort Worth police are now investigating the attack as a hate crime, but advocates say authorities initially tried to downplay the incident, leaving anti-gay slurs out of their report and failing to classify the incident as a an aggravated assault. From today’s Star-Telegram: Tom Anable, president of Fairness Fort Worth, said Tuesday that he is troubled by the department’s handling of the case and has requested an investigation into the assault by the FBI. Among Anable’s concerns is that officers did not include the derogatory terms in their initial report and that the case was not assigned earlier for investigation as a potential hate crime. “It’s clear to me, based on what I know, the officers on the scene downplayed the report,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that after all the progress we’ve made, an incident like this has to come back to Fairness Fort Worth and we have to call the FBI,” said Anable, referring to the changes that have been made since a controversial inspection of the Rainbow Lounge, a gay bar, two years ago.

2. Gay California corrections officer Andrew Johnson will be allowed to march in uniform in Sunday’s West Hollywood Pride parade, after the state corrections department reversed its initial decision denying his request. The department’s decision to allow Johnson to march in uniform comes after he filed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint through his attorney, Gloria Allred.

3. CNN’s AC360 on Tuesday night aired part one of “The Sissy Boy Experiment,” a three-part series examining the consequences of an experimental “ex-gay” therapy program led by discredited psychologist George “Rent Boy” Rekers. Kirk Murphy, who was enrolled in the program at the age of 5, later took his own life at 38. Part two of the series airs tonight. Watch part one below.

—  John Wright

Temple police investigate possible hate crime

Adrian Lopez said a group of teenagers approached him and his friends and started asking about their tattoos, before assaulting them after they found out they were gay. (via Facebook)

Police are investigating a possible anti-gay hate crime that occurred at a popular lakeside park in Temple last week.

Adrian Lopez, 23, of Killeen, said he and two friends were visiting Temple Lake Park at Lake Belton on Wednesday when a group of teenagers assaulted them.

Lopez, who is gay, said the incident began at about sunset when a group of roughly seven teenagers, who appeared to be high school seniors, came over and struck up a conversation with him and his friends.

The teenagers were asking about their tattoos, before the conversation turned to religious beliefs and it came out that Lopez and his two friends were gay. Lopez said the teenagers started verbally “gay-bashing” them, saying things like “Y’all are going to hell” and “God doesn’t like gay people.”

Lopez and his friends got up to leave, but the group approached them again as they were walking toward their car. That’s when Lopez said one of the teenagers sucker-punched him from behind, briefly knocking him unconscious.

Lopez said he suffered a hole in his lip where his teeth cut through it, as well as multiple bruises. He was treated by paramedics at the scene, but he said one of his friends suffered more serious injuries, including a possible broken jaw, and had to go the hospital.

“I know this was an act of more than violence,” Lopez told Instant Tea on Friday. “I just feel that if they hadn’t found out that we were gay, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Sgt. Brad Hunt, a spokesman for the Temple Police Department, said in an email this morning that the incident is under investigation and is being treated as a class-A misdemeanor assault. Hunt said police were dispatched to a report of a fight at Temple Lake Park at about 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

“The victim and witnesses advise he was assaulted by a male suspect, because of the suspect’s perception of the victim’s sexual orientation,” Hunt said. “The suspect and his group had left in a vehicle prior to officers’ arrival, but were located and stopped a short time later. The identified suspect from that group is a juvenile, and his name will not be released. An offense report was generated on 6-1-11, by the responding officers, and the case is an active investigation. Classification as a ‘Hate Crime’ occurs at the prosecutorial level, as set forth in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 2.211 (Hate Crime Reporting), and Art. 42.014 (Finding that Offense was Committed Because of Bias or Prejudice).”

Hunt said he could not release any additional information about the case and he didn’t respond to further questions.

—  John Wright