Houston’s State Rep. Garnet Coleman applauds Prop. 8 decision

State Rep. Garnet Coleman

Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, took to his blog today to applaud yesterday’s decision by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring Proposition 8  unconstitutional (Prop. 8, passed in 2008, prohibited marriage equality in California):

“Yesterday’s 9th Circuit decision, just like the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, is a stepping stone on the path to marriage equality for all. As Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the opinion, ‘Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.’ The same holds true for the marriage equality ban in Texas. That is why I continue to fight for marriage equality and continue to file the repeal of the ban of same sex marriage. Denying gay couples the right to marry is unconstitutional and a blatant denial of human rights. “

Coleman has a long history of filing pro-LGBT legislation in the Texas House. Last year he introduced historic legislation that, had it passed, would have called for a state-wide vote to repeal the section of Texas’ constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage, so he’s no stranger to the battle for marriage equality.

Coleman is seeking re-election to his District 147 seat. He will face long-time local LGBT activist Ray Hill in the Democratic Primary. No republican candidate has filed for the seat.

Read Coleman’s full statement on his blog.

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Ray Hill kicks off campaign for Texas House with YouTube videos

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

As previously reported by Houstini Ray Hill, the iconic and iconoclastic Houston LGBT activist, announced this year that he would challenge ten-term incumbent state representative Garnet Coleman in next spring’s Democratic Primary. Hill is running what he calls an “unfunded campaign,” relying on social media and support from community members to get his message out.

We haven’t heard much about the campaign since Hill filed at the beginning of the month (perhaps he’s been distracted by his recent arrest during an attempt to prevent the HPD vice squad from harassing strippers), but Hill seems to have gotten back into the campaign saddle, releasing two YouTube videos about his campaign and why he thinks he’s the best choice to represent district 147 (they can be viewed after the jump). The audio’s not the best (tip: taping next to a roaring waterfall does not produce the best sound), but in both videos Hill expresses his belief that the common people of the district will vote him into office. Judge for yourself:

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“Bill Cunningham New York” at 14 Pews

Bill Cunningham photographing on the streets of Manhattan.

If fashion is your passion you probably already know who Bill Cunningham is, but for the rest of us the documentary Bill Cunningham New York is an illuminating portrait of the man who elevated street fashion to an art form. Cunningham started his career in NewYork as a writer for the Chicago Tribune and Women’s Wear Daily, amusing himself by taking portraits of the various celebrities and celebri-wannabes walking the sidewalks of Manhattan. In 1978 the New York Times published a collection of his photos, including one of the infamously reclusive Greta Garbo that caused a stir. Since then Cunningham’s lens has become the ultimate oracle of haute fashion. From trend setting street kids to trend chasing socialites, Cunningham has captured them all. “We all get dressed for Bill,” says Vogue editrix Anna Wintour.

Bill Cunningham New York shows at 14 Pews (800 Aurora) January 6 at 7 pm and Jan 8 at 6 pm. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

Watch the Trailer for Bill Cunningham New York after the jump.

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Update on Ray Hill’s arrest

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

As previously reported by Houstini, longtime Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill was arrested last night after a confrontation with police outside Treasures, a gentlemen’s club on Westhiemer Rd. Hill has been released from jail and posted the following message to his Facebook page:

I was arrested trying to stop power arrogant cops from bullying frightened and vulnerable people (this is not my first rodeo) There will be a trial; they will lie under oath; I will show the video of the whole incident; I will win and then sue and win that case. The system works if you have the tools to use it properly. My lawyer and I will make money off the city in this process. The cycle will end when the City of Houston stops trying to treat adults like they were children…


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Iconic LGBT activist Ray Hill files for Texas House seat

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

Long time Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill filed paperwork this week to run for the 147th Texas House seat against incumbent Garnet Coleman, D – Houston. The iconic (and iconoclastic) Hill said that he and Coleman agree on many issues but that he had “some issues  that aren’t on the table in Austin.”

Specifically Hill has concerns with the legislature’s approach to criminal justice issues. “The Texas legislature is a serial world class red-necking competition,” says Hill. “What they are doing on criminal justice is wrong and it doesn’t work… we need a serious rethink.”

Coleman has a strong history of supporting LGBT legislation. For the last three sessions he has attempted to pass anti-bullying legislation that would require school districts to report instances of bullying using an enumerated list of motivating characteristics that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, he has also filed legislation to remove the the crime of “homosexual conduct” from the Texas penal code (a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), to equalize age of consent laws in Texas and to add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime law. In the 82nd legislature earlier this year Coleman authored seven pieces of legislation designed to create greater equality for LGBT people, including the first ever filing of legislation to standardize change of gender marker procedures for the transgender community and the first effort to repeal the state’s constitutional prohibition against marriage equality.

Hill recognizes Coleman’s historic contributions, “The incumbent and I agree on a lot of issues,” says Hill, “but we don’t tell young gay people ‘if you work real hard and go to school and do your best you can grow up to have straight friends in Austin who like you.’ No, we tell them ‘if you work hard they can grow up to be Mayor of Houston, or City Supervisor of San Francisco.’”

When asked why the community would be better served by him than Coleman, a 20 year legislative veteran, Hill replies “I understand how government works. A freshman legislator can’t do anything more than irritate, but that’s about all any member of the minority party can do. On that level the incumbent and I are on the same level… I think we need somebody obnoxious [in the legislature] who’s going to purposefully rub the cat hair the wrong direction.”

Since being elected to the legislature for the first time in 1992 Coleman has been unopposed in 5 of his 9 primary reelection bids. No primary challenger to Coleman has pulled more than 21% of the vote.

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Become a part of the Gender Book

The Gender BookThe Gender Book is an effort to try to bring together, in one resource, a discussion of the wide array of gender expressions and identities that fall under the transgender umbrella. It’s creators are holding a brainstorming session next Thursday evening, December 8, to get public input and allow the community at large to become a part of the project.

“We sort of just made the Gender Book out of a need that we felt,” says Mel Reiff Hill, one of the collaborators on the project, along with Boston Bostian and Jay Mays. Hill says that the creators of the Gender Book searched for resources to help them talk about gender, but were unable to find anything that met their needs. “I had a boyfriend who had to pay a therapist to attend training on gender so that he could get the care he needed,” says Hill “the resources just weren’t out there.”

“At the time we were all living in the same house and we had a writer and an artist and a fundraising person and an enteprenuer. All of us were under the transgender umbrella in one way or another and all of us had friends and lovers who are as well,” and thus the Gender Book was born.

Hill describes the brainstorming session as “an interactive community party.” “We’re the first to admit that we can’t represent everyone,” says Hill, recognizing the limitations of any author writing on such a diverse topic. “We’ll have surveys for people to fill out and snacks and coloring book versions for people to fill out”

The coloring book pages are the result of Hill’s process in illustrating the book. Hill first draws pages in pencil then outlines the drawings in pen and erases the pencil, finally scanning the drawing and coloring it by computer. “I presented a workshop with some high schoolers and I was showing one of them my binder of papers looking through it one of them saw the original pen drawings,” says Hill. “He was like ‘you should give these to high schoolers, they love coloring it’s very zen-like for them.’” Hill says that the coloring pages have proved a hit at subsequent workshops and a great way to open up conversations about gender.

The brainstorming session, coloring pages included, is next Thursday, December 8, at the Lawndale Art Center (4912 Main). Attendees are asked to RSVP through Facebook.

More information on the Gender Book is available through their website, TheGenderBook.com.

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Local briefs • 10.14.11

RCD hosts ‘The 5 Factor’

Resource Center Dallas, in partnership with Dallas Modern Luxury, presents the third annual “The 5 Factor” event on Thursday, Oct. 20, at eM the venue by Marc, 1500 Dragon St. in Dallas.

“The 5 Factor” event recognizes five of Dallas’ finest in areas such as cuisine, fashion, media and literature.

This year’s “5 Factor” honorees are journalist and award-winning author Jenny Block; Emmy Award-winning journalist Ron Corning, who recently joined WFAA Channel 8 as the host of News 8 Daybreak; Dallas restaurant owner Monica Greene of Monica’s Aca Y Alla in Deep Ellum and BEE in Oak Cliff, who recently began providing commentary on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars for WFAA; award-winning fashion designer Prashi Shah who created her own label, Prashe, and recently opened a showroom in Dallas’ Design District; and Bronwen Weber, executive chef and general manager of Frosted Art Bakery and Studio in Dallas who is perhaps best known to many for her appearances on television’s Food Network Challenge programs.

The evening will be hosted by Angela Betasso, with state Rep. Eric L. Johnson and his wife as co-chairs and last year’s honorees serving as the honorary host committee.

General admission is $50 per person, available online at The5Factor.org. Proceeds benefit the programs and services of Resource Center Dallas.

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GLAAD holds ‘Get Amped’ 5K

The local chapter of GLAAD presents Get Amped, a 5K run/walk on the Katy Trail on Thursday, Oct. 20, in conjunction with similar chapter events around the country.
Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center.

The starting gun goes off at 7 p.m. The celebration takes place at the finish line, also at the arena, at 9 p.m.

An after-party takes place at 9:30 p.m. at the Round-Up Saloon.

Each runner has a goal of raising $250. The money raised will benefit the national organization.

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VNA holds Service of Remembrance

The Visiting Nurse Association will host a Service of Remembrance on Sunday, Nov. 6, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Preston Hollow United Methodist Church, 6315 Walnut Hill Lane in Dallas.

The event is open to the public and will feature special music, readings and the opportunity to light a memorial candle.

Attendees of all faiths are welcome to attend the service.

For more information call Sue Rafferty, bereavement coordinator with the Visiting Nurse Association, at 214-689-2922

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

‘OPERATION RENEWED ENGAGEMENT’: Gay vets and allies are on the Hill pushing for DADT vote

Servicemembers United is conducting “OPERATION RENEWED ENGAGEMENT” on Capitol Hill. The lobbying effort, which started yesterday and will continue through tomorrow, will hit 71 Senate offices. Via press release, we got this update:

“Despite the ongoing snow storm in Washington, DC right now, gay veterans and allies are storming the Hill for a second day in a row to demand that the Senate finish the job on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ before leaving for the holidays,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the Servicemembers United Action Fund. “The fact that these advocates are braving the snow to fight for what they believe in should demonstrate that we will not accept any excuses from lawmakers for failing to get this done, including bad weather or time running out.”

I just talked to Alex who reports that Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Johnson (D-SD) have joined as cosponsors of the DADT bill, which brings the total to 50. We’ll get more updates from him later today.

Alex is right: There are no excuses. And, while time is running out, there is time for the Senate to vote for the DADT bill.

As noted below, earlier today, Robert Gibbs said we have the votes to pass the DADT bill, adding “there’s an effort to get his done if we have time to do it.”

The message from SU and its allies is pretty clear: Make the time to do it.




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Petraeus Aide Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill: If You Can’t Serve With Gays, Get The Hell Out Of the U.S. Armed Forces

If there are people who cannot deal with the change, then they're going to have to do what's best for their troops and best for the organization and best for the military service and exit the military service, so that we can move forward — if that's the way that we have to go. … We know that if there is a change, that that change will have to be led, and it's going to have to be led by senior leaders such as myself and — and others across the battlefield. Senior leaders are the ones [that are] going to set the tone in the unit and enable the unit to move forward.

—Command Sergeant Major Marvin Hill, a senior aide to NATO's Afghanistan commander David Petraeus (pictured R-L), in an interview that airs tomorrow on Washington Watch. If Don't Ask Don't Tell was a way to rid the military of openly gay soldiers, its repeal is a way to rid the military of openly bigoted soldiers. [via]


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Queerty

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Hill source: Obama’s insistence on START is dooming DADT

Kerry Eleveld just wrote the same thing in the Advocate this morning, and Joe and I just got the same thing from a connected source on the Hill. The President’s insistence on the Senate taking up the START treaty during the lame duck session may run out the clock on DADT.

Here’s Kerry:

I have to level with you – “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal is most likely dead.

Of course, it’s more than just START. The Democrats are still talking about leaving for Christmas break a good week+ before Christmas. There’s no reason they can’t continue working on legislation up until the day before Christmas. These are, after all, the final days of the Democratically controlled Congress. You’d think the Democrats might want to do as much as they can before they lose their majority in the House. And in fact, Igor Volsky notes that there’s no reason this Congress can’t continue considering legislation up until the new Congress is sworn in, expected to happen around January 3, 2011 – or 28 days from now.

More from Kerry:

The near final nail in the coffin was delivered by Senate majority leader Harry Reid….

Once the impeachment is a wrap, Reid noted that left “a pretty clear path” to what else needed to be addressed – tax cuts, a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded, and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) plus votes on some other extraneous bills, one of which included the DREAM Act.

Reid said the schedule should leave the Senate “ample time” to complete those priorities and that they hoped to adjourn on December 17.

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin – perhaps slightly dismayed at no mention of the National Defense Authorization Act – prodded Reid to “say something about the Defense bill.”

Oh yeah… that.

[A] listing of White House talking points that was distributed to Congressional members after last week’s bipartisan meeting made no mention of the National Defense Authorization Act. But guess what was mentioned? START and taxes.

Kerry Eleveld blames the Democrats, starting at the top.

If DADT finally dies (either without a vote or following a symbolic vote that’s doomed to fail), politicians, pundits and advocates alike are surely going to deliver a panoply of theories and excuses as to why – the GOP wouldn’t cooperate, the clock ran out, bad timing because of more salient issues.

But here’s the truth: it will be a fundamental failure of leadership from the top down, starting with President Obama.

The White House chose not to address “don’t ask, don’t tell” until 2010; then they let the Pentagon set the release date of the working group study for December and make the Senate vote contingent on its review.

The calendar is the enemy. But let’s not forget who wrote the calendar:

The fact is, Democratic leaders sealed their own fate on a packed calendar. If the White House and majority leader Reid had shown any urgency about extending tax cuts to the middle class prior to the midterms – which could have been a great campaign issue for them to tout as a win – they wouldn’t presently be backed into the corner of negotiating with the GOP to extend tax cuts for all, including the top 2% of household earners. But instead of forcing that vote, Dems adjourned early before the midterms and once they came back, their bargaining power was in the tanker after the whooping they took at the ballot box.

There’s simply no policy reason to do START now instead of DADT:

If tax cuts had been pushed through before the midterms, there might be “ample time” now to debate the Defense authorization bill too, but neither the White House nor the Democratic leadership fought to make that happen.

Meanwhile, the White House has opted to put START in the pipeline after the tax cuts for no apparent reason. By most people’s estimations, START could absolutely be passed next year despite increased Republican control of Congress.

Kerry concludes:

Was this “the vision” and “the plan” of the White House that HRC’s Joe Solmonese mysteriously alluded to in an NYT article in the spring of 2009?

I don’t think the White House, Senator Reid, HRC, or any of their apologists (Robert Raben, Winnie Stachelberg and Tobias Barrington Wolff come to mind) fully appreciate the finality of ending this lame duck session without DADT, ENDA or DOMA. This is not just another defeat. After this month, it’s over. Our community – our leaders, both straight and gay – will have missed a historic opportunity and a once in a generation chance. And there will, I think, be a serious day of reckoning for everyone whose hubris, blind allegiance, incompetence, and even outright betrayal, led us to this day.

Don’t get me wrong: There’s still a very slim chance of success. But it will take President Obama, Senator Reid, and HRC all doing something they’ve been previously unwilling, or unable, to do: Showing some balls, and true leadership.




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