The AFA isn’t happy with corporate America

The hate group American Family Association isn’t very happy with corporate America.

Not only did J.C. Penney feature a gay Dallas couple in a recent catalog, but the Plano-based company doesn’t seem to really care what the AFA has to say about it.

On its website, the AFA says JCP is now blocking emails from its alert system and advises members to send messages from their personal accounts instead.

And now the AFA is annoyed at Target, too. For Pride month, Target is selling several Pride items and is donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the Family Equality Council up to $120,000. The AFA doesn’t want you shopping there either.

And AFA announced that they sent petitions to Home Depot for “extensive support for homosexual activism and direct the company toward neutrality in the culture war.”

AFA doesn’t specify what the beef is, but apparently some lesbians work there. And they get equal benefits.

The group is asking people to boycott Home Depot and pray for Chairman Frank Blake, then print a copy of the petition and “distribute it at Sunday school and church,” because nothing says love your neighbor like distributing petitions at church calling for hardworking people to get fired.

And look out for that radical group AARP. They’re apparently using member resources to “advocate for immoral behavior.” The AFA claims that the AARP’s LGBT resources pages links to “articles on personal finance, travel and other issues of interest.” Shocking.

Of course, AFA would like us to get back to traditional marriage as it’s existed since biblical times … as depicted in this photo released by the Israeli Defense Forces this week in honor of Pride month:

—  David Taffet

What do supporters of ‘The Response’ have to say about LGBTs? Here are a few examples

Rick Perry

As the Dallas Voice cover story, “Responding to ‘The Response,” points out, there are a lot of people around the state — and around the country — who are angry over Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to partner with The American Family Association to present his day of prayer and fasting Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The list of people supporting and endorsing the event — like Pastor John Hagee — also has some people upset.

But what is it about the American Family Association and people like Hagee that has people so angry? As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, it’s not because they believe homosexuality is a sin. It’s because of the hateful, discriminatory and outright false things they say to stir up fear and anger against LGBT people, Jews, Muslims, Catholics — in short, against anybody who isn’t just like them.

What kind of things? Well, here are a few examples.

This is an actual trailer for a video called They’re Coming To Your Town. The video, produced by the American Family Association, warns that gays and lesbians are trying to take over city governments across the country, using Eureka Springs, Ark., as an example.

Here’s one where AFA’s Buddy Smith reports to Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of issues analysis, on a gay Pride parade in which Home Depot participated and why Home Depot is wrong to promote diversity. In this clip, Smith says that “homosexuals are in Satan’s grasp.”

Here’s Fischer again, explaining how the Nazis — including Hitler — were all gay and how Hitler chose to surround himself with gay soldiers because the straight soldiers were not “savage and brutal and vicious enough” to carry out Hitler’s orders, whereas the gay Brown Shirt soldiers were happy to do so:

In this one Fischer explains that tribal reservations are “mired” in poverty and alcoholism today because the Native American won’t convert to Christianity.

One more quick one from Fischer. In this clip, taped in the aftermath of the shooting at Fort Hood, he says Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the U.S. military and that they probably shouldn’t even be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. at all.

Here’s one with Pastor John Hagee explaining that the Anti-Christ is coming and that he is partially Jewish (“as was Adolph Hitler”??) and he is gay AND he is fierce! Oh yeah, and the Anti-Christ will come from Germany.

Pastor Hagee, by the way, has also called the Catholic Church “a great whore” that “thirsts for the blood of the Jews.” And after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Hagee said in 2006 it was because New Orleans was a sinful place that was planning a gay parade (the annual Southern Decadence party over Labor Day Weekend) and, basically, that the hurricane was God’s punishment on the city. He later recanted.

We tried to find other videotapes of Hagee making these stories, but many of the videos containing some of his more controversial comments have been removed due to claims of “copyright infringement” according to notices posted on websites where the videos previously were displayed.

Want more evidence? Go to YouTube and do a search for American Family Association, specifically Bryan Fischer. Pastor Hagee might have had second thoughts about some of his more vitriolic statements and removed those videos, but Fischer’s videos are there for everyone to see.

Of course, Hagee, Fischer and the Wildmons aren’t the only ones on the list of those endorsing “The Response.” Go here to read an earlier Dallas Voice post that includes videos of “Response”  supporter Mike Bickle who claims that Oprah Winfrey is a harbinger of the Anti-Christ, and of “Response” supporter C. Peter Wagner who teaches that Japan is cursed because the emperor of Japan had sex with a demon.

Then there’s David Barton, president and founder of “WallBuilders,” who said opposes anti-bullying legislation, claiming that laws and policies to prevent bullying actually indoctrinate children into homosexuality. And he uses info from the American College of Pediatricians — a right-wing group that broke away from the American Academy of Pediatricians because the AAP supports gay and lesbian parents  — to back up his claims. Read about that here at RightWingWatch.org.

—  admin

Memorial service set for Bettye Pepper

Bettye “Pep” Pepper, 1945-2011

Longtime Dallas resident and my good friend Bettye “Pep” Pepper died this morning at Hearthstone Hospice in Irving following a courageous battle against cancer.

A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held tomorrow — Saturday, April 30 — at Joe’s/The Brick. Everyone who knew and loved her is invited to attend. Pep’s body will be returned to her hometown in Benton, Mississippi, where funeral services are pending.

Pepper worked many years as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. She then worked several years as a bartender for Joe Elliott at Jugs, then later for Howard Okon at Joe’s Place. The last several years, she worked for Home Depot on Lemmon Avenue in Oak Lawn.

There are so many things to say about Pep that there’s no way to say it all here. She was a true Virgo: Ask her what time it was, and she would tell you how to make a clock. She held a treasure trove of trivia in her mind and loved to tell stories and recite poetry. She also loved to tinker with things, to take things apart when they were broken and try to fix them and put them back together. And a lot of the times, when she put them back together, they did work, even if she had parts left over. She had a great laugh, and an excellent sense of humor. Her favorite TV channel was PBS.

She was a true and loyal friend, fierce about standing up for the people she loved and the causes she believed in.

Pep loved her family more than anything, and there were so many friends she thought of as family. Rest in peace, Bettye Pepper. We will miss you very much.

—  admin

Look closer • Defining Homes

Buyers and owners alike can always find hidden discounts

By M. M. Adjarian

These days, there’s no denying that anyone who owns, sells or buys property is concerned with the bottom line. With liquidity in short supply and loans more difficult to secure, homeowners and homebuyers are looking for ways to get the most and best for their money. Besides, who doesn’t like a good deal?

With his experience as a Dallas Realtor, Rogers Healy of Rogers Healy and Associates Residential Real Estate, knows what to look for regarding money-saving opportunities for people standing on either side of the property-owning fence.

If a property owner is specifically renovating to sell, taking care of electrical, plumbing, roofing, foundation and window issues should be at the top of any to-do list.

“It’s the stuff that a homebuyer’s going to ask for when they get the house under contract,” says Healy.

Healy advises to do research on how much projects will cost and then to get bids from contractors.

“In the economy that we’re in, people are definitely willing to work for less,” he says.

Just don’t limit searches for bids to the newspapers and telephone book. Consider a modern approach. Healy suggests that social networking is a reliable way to go with the search. Plus, feedback is easily found.

“I think you can catch some great deals on Facebook fan pages and on Twitter as well,” Healy says. “That and also skimming the paper. Places like Home Depot and Lowe’s will compete against each other for your business, meaning they will want you to come to their store for the better deal.”

Realty offices are a surprising resource. After buying your home,  the affair, with your agent doesn’t stop there. Agents and firms can also provide homeowners the names of vendors specializing in renovation materials and services.

Healy’s own firm has a service provider list “of at least three people for everything from aquarium installation to air duct cleaning” that it shares with clients and non-clients alike. The one word of caution Healy has for home renovators is that a project could run double the expected price tag.

“Prepare for it to cost more money than you think,” he says.

Financial flexibility is crucial for those selling their home. Properties stay on the market longer due to the economic situation and seasonal fluctuations. These conditions are creating possibilities for property discounts that come from homeowners willing to sell for a lesser price.

One option would allow the seller to finance a home purchase. Another, which is becoming increasingly popular, is leasing to own the property.

“People who maybe have been burned or don’t have great credit or don’t have a huge amount of liquidity can get on a contract and then have an extended option period which is the lease,” Healy explains. “At the end of the lease, they have the option to apply a percentage of the money they’ve paid as rent as a down payment and purchase the property.”

Neither method of financing provides buyers with discounts, but  offer possibilities for home ownership to more people.

Affordable options and breaks are also offered to veterans, individuals who have owned property for two or more years and first-time buyers.
Or you could just be in the right job at the right time.

“A couple of banks I know of are doing creative financing if the buyer is a CPA, a dentist, an accountant or an attorney,” Healy adds.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Art in the Cliff

Oak Cliff’s arts community thrives by making the old new again

DAVID TAFFET  | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

THEY AUTRY BE PROUD  |  The Kessler opened as a movie palace owned by movie cowboy Gene Autry, but Edwin Cabaniss and Jeff Liles, pictured, have renovated it into a performing and visual arts venue. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
THEY AUTRY BE PROUD | The Kessler opened as a movie palace owned by movie cowboy Gene Autry, but Edwin Cabaniss and Jeff Liles, pictured, have renovated it into a performing and visual arts venue. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

First the Bishop Arts District brought gay-owned restaurants to Oak Cliff. Art galleries and stores followed closely. But not since the Bronco Bowl was torn down to make way for a Home Depot a decade ago have performing arts been so evident in the Cliff.

The Kessler Theater on Davis Street in Winnetka Heights has been around for decades, but although it’s in the process of renovating its art deco design, it’s also hopping with activity.

Originally owned by Gene Autry and opened as movie theater, it fell on hard times with the advent of television. The building cycled through many uses — it was a church at one time, and later still, a bowling shirt factory.

In 1957, the Kessler took a direct hit from the great Oak Cliff tornado, a disaster most familiar to Oak Cliff residents today from a large photograph hanging in Norma’s Café across the street. (The twister ripped right through the theater but left the structure standing.) A few years later, the building was further devastated by fire. For most of the past 25 years, it has stood empty.

Then Edwin Cabaniss, who lives in the neighborhood, bought the theater for his wife, a dancer who teaches tap and ballet. The couple’s love of the arts translated into turning the space into a clearing house for live performance. Work continues on updating the building, and when dance, guitar, piano and voice lessons aren’t taking place there, Jeff Liles books live music. Cliff native Edie Brickell will appear there Nov. 16; acts are booked four nights a week.

Visual arts are part of the ethos as well. In the gallery upstairs, an exhibit of black-light 1960s posters ran this summer. The theater, opened in March, looks better than it has since Autry owned it — and is more active.

The Kessler isn’t the only venue bringing life back into this gayborhood. Down the road, the Texas Theatre on Jefferson Boulevard has also reopened with a classic movie series. Best known as the place Lee Harvey Oswald was cornered after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, it’s worth a visit, if only for its historic significance. After several failed attempts to save the building through the years, it is now owned by the non-profit Oak Cliff Foundation that is working on renovations.

Next door is the newly opened Oak Cliff Cultural Center with 5,000 feet of space, which the city of Dallas used to replace the Ice House Cultural Center. The Ice House was the original early 1900s building where 7-Eleven got its start: They froze water in this building on Polk Street and sold ice in their first store just a few blocks away on Edgefield Avenue.

Dallas converted the Ice House into one of its small neighborhood cultural centers years later, where artists and playwrights were often featured, including Martice Productions, which specialized in gay/Latino comedies.
Gerardo Sanchez of the center said the new space features an art gallery that will house eight shows per year as well as a dance studio that’s already being used by arts groups, dance groups and classes. With the Texas Theatre next door, Sanchez said there are a lot of possibilities.

“We’re hoping to partner with them,” he says.

TeCo Productions is an ambitious theater company that operates out of the newly renovated Bishop Arts Theater on Tyler. The company started in Atlanta in 1993 and moved to Dallas where they performed at the Hall of State in Fair Park until a patron donated the dilapidated Blue Bird Theater just off Jefferson Boulevard.

The Blue Bird was a silent movie theater built in 1917 — talkies never made it in this part of Oak Cliff. Outside, the drab brown cement building is easy to miss. The surprise is the 170-seat proscenium-stage, state-of-the-art theater inside.

This year’s schedule includes gay writer Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity starring New Arts Six; the show opens in December. The season also includes a world premiere of a mystery in October, and in February, their annual new play competition. Last year’s Southwest Airlines Jazz Series regularly sold out.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 8, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Get Equal Now threatens to sue American Family Association over boycott of Home Depot

Cd Kirven and her son, Trevor

Get Equal Now has sent the American Family Association a cease and desist letter after the anti-gay, right-wing organization called for a boycott of Home Depot.

Last week, AFA called for a boycott of the home improvement retailer because it sponsored several gay Pride events this year and offers domestic partner benefits to its employees.

Cd Kirven, a Dallas resident and co-founder of Get Equal Now, sent AFA president Tim Wildmon the cease and desist letter after speaking to several attorneys.

“In the process of attacking us, you are attacking our children,” Kirven told AFA.

Kirven said she had been formulating the plan for a while.

“When I heard the tea party calling the NAACP racists, I said, ‘Why can’t the LGBT community do that to the AFA or NOM?’” Kirven said.

She had the letter to AFA notarized and sent return receipt requested. Attorneys advised her to wait for a reply or, without a reply, wait a month, monitor the hate speech on their website and then file a lawsuit.

Several attorneys are interested in pursuing the case, according to Kirven. She said the LGBT community has not taken this approach before.

“I believe enough’s enough,” she said. “When you go after my son, I am going to defend him with every last breath.”

Kirven shares custody of her 5-year-old son, Trevor, with a former partner.

“I don’t want to see another kid commit suicide behind the intolerant behavior of AFA,” Kirven said. “NOM is next. The LGBT community is tired of the verbal and financial abuse of those organizations. Some of us don’t make it through the process. It has to stop. If the government won’t take action, Get Equal Now will.”

Kirven said the AFA says the LGBT community is damaging marriage. If that’s the case, she wondered why Massachusetts and Vermont, which both allow same-sex marriage, have two of the lowest divorce rates.

“We’re not damaging marriage. They’re the ones with a 75 percent divorce rate,” she said of heterosexual couples.

Kirven also filed a complaint against AFA with the Justice Department and has contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center about listing them as a hate group. SPLC lists other groups such as the Family Research Institute in Colorado Springs as a hate group for its anti-gay activity.

Kirven is also encouraging people to send letters to Home Depot thanking them for supporting LGBT families. At Pride events, the company offers family-friendly areas where it gives out balloons to the children.

Here’s the text of Get Equal Now’s letter to the AFA:

“Good evening! I’m seriously concerned about the physical welfare of our childre because of your written and verbal harassment of the LGBT Community. One example of your successful intimidation tactics was American Family Association’s Boycott of the Ford Company in 2005 to 2008. Now you are leading an intimidation campaign against Home Depot.

“In protection of our families and our children, I’m serving American Family Association with a cease and desist order. If this intimidating, manipulative and high-pressure tactics do not stop then we will take the responsibility upon ourselves to protect that right by suing your organization for defamation. The constant attacks of the LGBT community and AFA’s fear mongering has to stop. You promote the damage your organization done to my community and those impatc lead to hate crimes, teen suicides and isolation of the LGBT community. This order demands that you stop the verbal abuse of our community on radio, television and in print.”

The letter to Home Depot is posted as a petition online and can be signed by going here.

—  David Taffet

Business Briefs • 07.23.10

Karim Harati-Zadeh opened a second Spectrum Chiropractic & Acupuncture location at 1300A W. Arkansas Lane in Arlington. His first office is on Lemmon Avenue in Oak Lawn.

Derrick Dawson passed his Texas real estate salesperson licensure exam and has joined Texas Pride Realty in Carrollton.

Eric Johnson has formed a new law firm with John Helms and Manuel Diaz at 6060 N. Central Expressway.

Turtle Creek Consignment & Estate Sales, a gay-owned, Web-based business, recently opened their warehouse showroom to the public. Located at 3737 Atwell Street, behind the Home Depot on Lemmon Avenue, they specialize in new and pre-owned luxury home furnishings, home décor, collectibles, fine art, vintage home accessories vintage jewelry, crystal, glass and pottery. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lula B’s moved from its Lower Greenville Avenue location to 2639 Main St. in Deep Ellum. Their second store is on Riverfront (Industrial) Boulevard and features 80 vendors selling funky, kitschy and collectible, vintage and pimpadelic items.

—  Kevin Thomas