Aggies join hands to form wall blocking Westboro Baptist Church protesters from alum’s funeral

In an effort of unity and pride, a group of Aggies formed a human wall Thursday to block potential anti-gay hate group protesters from a funeral of one of their own.

The students organized the event after the church announced it would protest former Aggie Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale’s funeral. He was killed during a training exercise at Fort Bragg on June 28.

More than 600 Aggie students lined up in front of Central Baptist Church in Bryan on Thursday afternoon to hide the protesters — who never showed up — from the grieving family, according to BuzzFeed.

As a Texas native, I’ve always been proud of the solidarity the people of Lone Star State display on a daily basis, but actions like this make me truly proud to call Texas my home.

From the event page:

Westboro Baptist Church has announced their intention to protest the funeral of a fallen Ag.

Lt Col. Roy Tisdale

It is proposed that we respond with true Aggie spirit.

In response to their yelling, we will be silent. Like silver taps, like Bonfire Memorial.

In response to their signs of hate, we will wear maroon.

In response to their mob anger, we will form a line, arm in arm.

This is a silent vigil. A manifestation of our solidarity.

We must establish and enforce some ground rules, because Westboro loves pushing their constitutional rights down our throat.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Anti-gay Congressman Louie Gohmert calls ENDA part of Obama’s ‘war on religion’

Louie Gohmert

Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert told a conservative radio show Tuesday that he thinks ENDA is a continuation of the Obama administration’s “war on religion.”

Gohmert spoke with Today’s Issues host Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president, saying the federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is “a part of this administration’s ongoing war on religion, on particularly Judeo-Christian values,” Right Wing Watch reports. FRC has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A Senate committee began a hearing on ENDA on Tuesday.

Gohmert went on to criticize religious groups that accept homosexuality and also said that ENDA’s passage would require Christian schools to hire LGBT people, a misguided theory as religious institutions would be exempt from the bill. He said it would be “kind of tough to teach biblical principles in Romans 1 in a school if you are of the persuasion of being homosexual.”

From the video:

Perkins: Today, in the Senate they are having a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act…. What this would do is give special employment benefits and protections based upon their sexual behavior and orientation. What do you see as the outcome of this? I mean, are you concerned increasingly that this is a way to essentially punish religious freedom in the business environment, in the business sector?

Gohmert: It continues to be part of this administration’s ongoing war on religion, on particularly Judeo-Christian values. But of course this is one that even is extremely contrary to the Muslim religion as well. I mean, Islam, Judaism, although there are plenty of people in Judaism and Christianity who think despite the plumbing that God created, that as the Iowa Supreme Court said, there is no biological evidence of a preference for a man and a woman being married as opposed to a man and a man.

Watch the clip below.

—  Dallasvoice

One Million Moms attacks J.C. Penney’s Father’s Day ad featuring gay Dallas couple and their kids

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith are seen here with their two children in J.C. Penney’s June catalog.

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith and their two children are featured in the June edition of J.C. Penney’s catalog.

Smith said he was asked by a casting agent in Dallas in early February to be in the Father’s Day issue after the agent saw his family’s Christmas photo on Facebook.

They agreed and did a photo shoot in Addison shortly afterward. He said the picture is very natural with the kids, Mason, almost 3, and Claire, 3, running around and having a fun time.

“The photo is just a one-second photo of our life,” Smith said. “It’s a candid moment of how we interact with each other.”

The ad features Koch and Smith in a relaxed home setting playing with their two children under the words “First Pals.” The text reads, “What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver – all rolled into one. Or two.” The text at the bottom right-hand corner reads, “Real-life dads, Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children Claire and Mason.”

Smith said the agents were seeking a variety of families for the issue, but they are the only gay family featured.

“They were just trying to present a wholesome gay family and I guess we fit the bill for that,” he said. “They’re really trying to represent what America looks like, and that’s not just heterosexual white people.”

The company’s inclusion of a lesbian couple with their daughters and one of the women’s mothers in the May issue sparked the anti-gay hate group One Million Moms to reactivate a boycott of the store. The unsuccessful boycott had been dropped in March after J.C. Penney stood firmly behind its hiring of lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres as a company spokeswoman.

Smith said they were asked about the OMM situation before they agreed to be included, but he said it was not an issue.

“Obviously we’re not ashamed of our family,” he said. “It’s very tastefully done.”

Catalogs started going out Wednesday, and One Million Moms responded Thursday, writing on the group’s website that J.C. Penney is “continuing down the same path of promoting sin in their advertisements.”

The group urges the public to return the catalogs in protest, as well as call and email the company.

“It is obvious that JCP would rather take sides than remain neutral in the culture war. JCP will hear from the other side so they need to hear from us as well,” OMM’s statement reads online. “Our persistence will pay off! One day we will answer for our actions or lack of them. We must remain diligent and stand up for Biblical values and truth. Scripture says multiple times that homosexuality is wrong, and God will not tolerate this sinful nature.”

The full statement is below.

—  Dallasvoice

Lesbian couple featured in J.C. Penney catalog, reigniting hate group’s boycott of company

An ad in J.C. Penney's May 2012 catalog featuring Wendi with her mom, partner and daughters. The ad says Wendi's mom is an artist with a gallery in Granbury, south of Fort Worth.

The boycott of Plano-based J.C. Penney is back on by hate group One Million Moms after a lesbian couple was featured in the store’s May catalog. The ad features Wendi with her mom, partner and daughters with the words “freedom of expression” over the picture.

“You’ll often find Wendi, her partner, Maggie, and daughters elbow-deep in paint, clay or mosaics,” the ad reads. Further on it explains that Wendi’s mother is an artist with a gallery in Granbury, Texas, and reiterates that the picture is of “Wendi with her mom Carolyn, daughters Raven and Clover, and partner Maggie.”

OMM ended the J.C. Penney boycott in March after the company came out in defense of selecting lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres as its spokeswoman. While “so many issues” OMM is working on took precedence before, the group states on its website that it has “no choice but to move on earlier in the year but have decided to revisit this issue and speak out again.”

Apparently store managers who received complaints from OMM supporters or those who disagreed with DeGeneres representing the company were “brushed off,” according to OMM.

“Last time OMM contacted JC Penney store managers, we were brushed off,” OMM states on its website. “Some even experienced in person the store manager saying ‘Thank you’ and walking off while their customer and our concerned members were in mid-sentence. OMM has been told that JCP corporate office told store managers to say ‘Thank you’ and then walk away. If they want our business, then we will not be ignored!”

OMM is again asking store managers be approached so they will take the complaints to corporate. The group also wants emails sent to jcpcorpcomm@jcpenney.com, stating that J.C. Penney blocks OMM’s prewritten letters from its server.

Maybe because the company has addressed concerns and no longer wants its employees bothered. Just a thought.

After the jump, read the full concerns of OMM regarding the ad.

—  Dallasvoice

Hate group drops J.C. Penney boycott

EllenAd4

Ellen DeGeneres is shown in a Western outfit in a J.C. Penney commercial that aired during the Oscars — otherwise known as the gay Super Bowl — on Sunday, Feb. 26. The ad was one of five that premiered during the awards for the company’s new ‘Fair and Square’ pricing campaign.

One Million Moms announced this week that the group is ditching the J.C. Penney boycott to focus on other matters.

The group, affiliated with the American Family Association and considered an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, began the boycott shortly after the Plano-based company announced lesbian talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres would be its new spokeswoman. One Million Moms said Ellen’s being gay meant she did not stand for traditional values.

J.C. Penney stood firm in their support for DeGeneres and aired five commercials featuring her during the Oscars Feb. 26 to kick off the company’s new pricing campaign.

In response to the boycott, the Facebook group “1 Million People Who Support Ellen for JC Penney” was created and quickly garnered more than 198,000 likes. The One Million Moms Facebook page has slightly more than 45,000.

OMM Director Monica Cole told One News Now this week that while the boycott has ended, the group still received responses from many people that would not shop at J.C. Penney while DeGeneres represents the company:

“But we have heard back from so many of our members,” she shares. “We have heard back from men and women – not just moms – saying they will no longer shop there at JC Penney, as long as Ellen DeGeneres is their spokesperson.”

Cole believes OneMillionMoms has done its job by educating members about the retailer and urging them to take their business elsewhere. She says only time will tell how business goes for JC Penney.

“Everyone works hard for their money, and they want to spend their money with companies that have the same values as them,” Cole explains. “And JC Penney stated that Ellen DeGeneres shares the same values that they do. So obviously, it’s not the same as Christians or conservatives, which is unfortunate [because] JC Penney was founded by a Christian man.”

Meanwhile, the OMM director finds it interesting that Fitch Ratings, a global agency, recently downgraded JC Penney’s credit rating to “junk.”

OMM is now targeting Toys ‘R Us for selling Archie comics with a gay marriage featured on the cover. The comics have reportedly sold out.

“Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in a toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand,” OMM writes on its website. “A trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for. Toys ‘R’ Us should be more responsible in the products they carry.”

—  Dallasvoice

Tom Brown Ministries named anti-gay hate group as El Paso pastor files appeal of recall ruling

Pastor Tom Brown

Just as El Paso pastor Tom Brown filed an appeal this week to the Texas Supreme Court, his Tom Brown Ministries was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Brown filed an appeal Wednesday of a court’s ruling rejecting his effort to recall El Paso Mayor John Cook and two other council members over their support of domestic partner benefits for unmarried city employees.

This was just as the Southern Poverty Law Center was issuing its annual list of anti-gay hate groups. The 27 groups, up from 17 last year, includes Tom Brown Ministries.

Brown’s group is the second anti-gay group in Texas to be declared a hate group by the SPLC after the San Antonio-based Bethesda Christian Institute.

The El Paso City Council approved DP benefits in 2009, but were overturned in a ballot measure led by Brown’s El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values in 2010.

City Council voted to restore DP benefits last year, prompting Brown to begin a recall effort. While a county judge ruled in Brown’s favor after the recall was challenged in court by El Paso Mayor John Cook, the appeals court overturned the decision in February.

While Brown may have filed with the Texas Supreme Court, an attorney for Cook previously said the odds of the court taking the case are slim.

—  Dallasvoice

Top 10: Perry presidential bid galvanized gays

clip-Strong-Perry

BROKEBACK PERRY | Rick Perry’s ‘Strong’ ad, in which he’s wearing a jacket similar to the one worn by Heath Ledger in ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ has the second-most dislikes of any video on YouTube.

No: 3

Rick Perry began 2011 being sworn in to a third four-year term as Texas’ governor. He ends it on a bus tour of Iowa, where he’s trying frantically to climb back into contention for the GOP presidential nomination as the Hawkeye State’s Jan. 3 caucuses near.

Perry is perhaps the most anti-gay governor in Texas history — and that’s saying something. So, when rumors began to swirl this spring that “Governor Goodhair” was planning to run for president, the LGBT community seemed to collectively grimace. For most, the downside of Perry holding national office would far outweigh one small consolation: At least he would finally have to depart the Lone Star State.

Longstanding rumors that Perry is a closeted homosexual quickly resurfaced. And, as if to try to put an end to them once and for all, Perry organized a “day of prayer” at Reliant Stadium in Houston, called The Response and funded by the American Family Association. The AFA is considered an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and those who signed on as endorsers of Perry’s prayer rally certainly had the views to back up the designation.

The Response drew a huge response from, among others, the LGBT community, with activists staging counterdemonstrations in H-Town during a sweltering first weekend of August. Perry insisted The Response wasn’t political, but a week later he announced his campaign for president.

Republicans were smitten, and Perry skyrocketed to the top of GOP presidential polls — positioning himself as a highly-sought-after, more conservative alternative to presumptive frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Just before he formally launched his presidential bid, Perry stated at an event in Colorado that he believed marriage is a state’s rights issue and New York’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage was “fine with me.”

Under intense pressure from social conservatives, he quickly retracted the statement and came out firmly in support of a federal marriage amendment.

But that didn’t stop Rob Schlein, then president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, from writing a controversial column in which he said he would vote for Perry over President Barack Obama, despite the governor’s anti-gay record. The column was one of several factors that led National Log Cabin to de-charter the Dallas chapter, which is now known as Metroplex Republicans.

Perry would go on to sign a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage and come out against the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” But in the end, it appears his right-wing credentials weren’t enough to overcome major, repeated gaffes during nationally televised debates this fall.

In the most memorable one, Perry forgot the third federal department he would eliminate as president in what has become known as his “oops” moment.

Desperate to recover from the gaffes, Perry’s campaign lurched even further to the right — releasing a campaign ad called “Strong” in which he declared: “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

“Strong” spawned many parodies, with some harping on the fact that Perry’s jacket in the ad resembled the one worn by Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. “Strong” also garnered the second-most dislikes of any video on YouTube. Above all, though, where it really counts among Republican voters, the ad didn’t work.

As of this week, Perry was polling fifth in Iowa — and second among candidates from Texas behind Congressman Ron Paul.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Rick Perry fails to win support of anti-gay leaders; TV ad backfiring among some Iowa Republicans

Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign suffered yet another setback Tuesday when Bob Vander Plaats, a leading social conservative in Iowa who serves as president of the anti-gay Family Leader organization, endorsed Rick Santorum in the state’s Jan. 3 Republican Caucus.

Perry’s campaign had actively courted the Family Leader’s endorsement, and he signed the group’s controversial “marriage pledge” last month. Politico notes that Perry is in a three-way battle for Iowa’s coveted evangelical vote against Santorum and Michele Bachmann. Vander Plaats’ endorsement could help determine who moves on to New Hampshire and who does not.

Adding salt to Perry’s wounds, Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, endorsed Newt Gingrich on Tuesday. If you’ll remember, the AFA, which is considered an anti-gay hate group, teamed with Perry for The Response, the August prayer rally in Houston that served as a kickoff for his presidential campaign — and at which Wildmon embraced Perry on stage. Right Wing Watch reports on Wildmon’s endorsement of Gingrich:

Wildmon today appeared on Focal Point with Bryan Fischer where he explained that while he was initially “ecstatic” about Rick Perry’s candidacy, he decided that because of the Texas governor’s disastrous debate appearances his candidacy “cannot recover.” Wildmon said that electability matters because “we are facing the most critical election this nation has ever seen, the stake in this election is Western civilization.”

Despite Tuesday’s setbacks, The Dallas Morning News’ Wayne Slater reports that Perry, who’s still polling in the lower tier of candidates, plans to remain in the race beyond Iowa regardless of where he finishes. But Slater also notes the Perry’s infamous anti-gay TV ad, “Strong,” appears to be backfiring among some Republican voters:

At a historic hotel in Maquoketa, 61-year-old Len Ditch sat in the front row, wearing a Perry for President sticker. He said he liked Perry’s commercials in Iowa — especially one recommending that Congress be made part-time. He liked another one advocating prayer in schools but questioned why Perry had included a reference to gays serving openly in the military.

“I don’t believe in the gay world. But I believe live and let live,” he said.

Meanwhile, KWQC Channel 6 in Davenport, Iowa, has posted a transcript from an interview with Perry in which the station asked Perry about “Strong” and whether he thinks being gay is a choice. Read the excerpt below:

—  John Wright

Dallas VA hospital to decide within ‘a few weeks’ on discipline for nurse accused of anti-gay tirade

Esther Garatie

Five weeks after our initial story on Esther Garatie, The Dallas Morning News (subscription only) published a piece on the front page of its Metro section Sunday about the lesbian Marine veteran who alleges she was subject to a hateful anti-gay tirade by a nurse practitioner at the Dallas VA Medical Center in October.

Better late than never, we suppose. And while we could argue that the DMN should have given us credit as the media outlet that broke the story — as the Dallas Observer so graciously did a few weeks back — it’s also true that the Change.org petition calling for the nurse to be fired predated even our report.

Anyhow, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot of new info in the DMN story, but there are a few interesting tidbits. One is that supporters of the nurse, Lincy Pandithurai of Cedar Hill, have launched a Facebook page called, “Support Lincy T Pandithurai (nurse).” When we checked this afternoon, the page had a whopping total of 36 members —  compared to the more than 16,000 who’ve signed the Change.org petition (and the 196 who’ve joined another FB page called, “Fire Nurse Lincy Pandithurai and Revoke Her License“).

But back to the “Support Lincy T Pandithurai (nurse)” FB page mentioned by the DMN, which says the following under Info:

“This dear sweet nurse dared to witness Jesus Christ to a lost lesbian. So now the the gay community would rather see a good nurse fired rather than someone possibly have an opportunity to choose another path. How sad is that? Fellow Americans I ask you to wake up,speak out before it is too late. Let’s show this loving nurse our support. Pray for the lost soul she witnessed to. I bet she never said an unkind word.”

—  John Wright

With 9/11 anniversary approaching, Sally Kern reminds us that homosexuality is the real threat

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern

Right Wing Watch reports that Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern has doubled down on her claim, first made in 2008, that homosexuality poses a greater threat to the U.S. than terrorism. Here’s RWW’s transcript of Kern’s remarks during an Aug. 31 interview with Peter LaBarbera of the hate group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality:

You know if you just look at it in practical terms, which has destroyed and ended the life of more people? Terrorism attack here in America or HIV/AIDS? In the last twenty years, fifteen to twenty years, we’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people, adults too, but especially our young people, are bombarded at school, in movies, in music, on TV, in the mall, in magazines, they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day. Fortunately we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day, and that’s what I mean. …

It’s more dangerous, and yes I think that it’s also more dangerous because it will tear down the moral fiber of this nation. We were founded as a nation upon the principles of religion and morality, if we take those out from under our society we will lose what has made us a great nation, we will no longer be a virtuous people, which we see happening already. And without virtue this nation will not survive.

The audio is here.

—  John Wright