Napolitano directs INS to process green card applications for gay couples

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano

Binational couples may officially begin applying for green cards for the non-citizen spouse.

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a statement Monday.

“To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse,” she said.

—  David Taffet

Homeland Security will take up to 60 days to draft rules to implement new immigration order

"Dreamers" at the 2010 Mega March in Dallas.

Since issuing an immigration policy change that will disproportionately help gay and lesbian youth, Homeland Security has not established any application procedures. Prerna Lal, a Northern California attorney, Immigration Equality board member and co-founder of the Dream Activist Movement, said the process has not started yet. She said the government has 60 days to issue rules.

“Dreamers” are those who were brought illegally to this country and do not qualify for citizenship. Many heterosexuals who came to the U.S. as children obtain green cards and citizenship by marrying someone of the opposite sex. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, gays and lesbians do not qualify for residency this way.

To qualify, a person must be under the age of 30, entered the country under the age of 16, lived in this country continuously for the past five years, have a high school diploma, be in college or have military service and no criminal record.

Until policies are established, Lal advised those who qualify to get their paperwork in order.

According to the Homeland Security website, financial records, medical records, school records, employment records and military records will all help establish residency. Each person will have to pass a security check before receiving the document that will be good for two years before being renewed.

According to a member of the group QUIR Dallas, some local Dreamers started getting documents notarized last Friday to establish residency at that time. QUIR — Queer Undocumented Immigrant Radicals — is a new group based in Oak Cliff dealing with this and related issues.

Lal advised those who do not have a passport to get one from their country of origin to establish their identity.

—  David Taffet

Customs Service proposes changes to give same-sex couples equality — and save money

Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute

Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute on Tuesday released a proposal to expand joint Customs declarations. The proposal would allow same-sex couples to file one form at ports of entry — saving time, making borders safer and saving the government money.

Yes, sometimes discrimination is just plain expensive.

“The proposed update addresses when members of a family residing in one household and traveling together on their return to the U.S. may make a joint declaration for all members of the family,” Lute wrote in a press release sent to Dallas Voice. “We anticipate that expanding the definition of ‘members of a family residing in one household’ will reduce the amount of paperwork and time that CBP officers would need to review during inspection and, therefore, facilitate passenger processing.”

Streamlining the procedure could result in $2 million in savings.

With the time saved, officers could pay more attention to people who pose actual threats.

In a Facebook discussion of the new proposal, one gay man said he already files joint Customs declarations with his partner and their two children and has had no problem entering the country as a family.

—  David Taffet

FEEDBACK: Tavern Guild treasurer responds to criticism over gay Pride festival changes

Clearing up some Festival facts

I’m a bit disappointed by the tone of Hardy Haberman’s article on the Festival in Lee Park (“The end of the free festival,” Dallas Voice, April 15).

The writer admits up front that he never attended the event. I’m not sure where the nostalgia comes from if you have not been a regular in the park following the parade.

We all miss the “good old days” when the world was different. Days when people respected the law, followed rules, respected each other and controlled their drinking and fighting.

Things have changed. Sadly, the festival has degenerated to an embarrassing level. It was evident on the parade route this past year. It was most evident in the park for the last two years.

Uncontrolled drinking of cases and cases of beer brought into the park led to a lot of issues: Gay on gay issues; drunk, loud, vulgar language in front of children; rude behavior and more fights than we have ever experienced.

The actions of a few of our community disgusted several GLBT families with children. Rude, vulgar actions led only to anger on the part of the offending parties that their actions were questioned. And most all of it was due to uncontrolled beer and even liquor consumption.

Public drunkenness is illegal. Bringing liquor into the park is illegal. We run the risk of losing the support and attendance of much of the GLBT community if we do not control the events in the park. That would be a real loss.

TABC and Homeland Security are an issue, even though the writer scoffed at the idea. Homeland Security is the reason police requirements rose from 20 officers to 85 officers (DPD wanted 100 officers). These are all $35 to $45 per hour, per officer. We are approaching $20,000 in security.

Add to that a clean-up cost of $12,000 because in a celebration, no one wants to pick up after themselves. Add to that a festival in the park where the celebration is used by a few as an excuse to get as drunk as they want, with no thought or respect for others in attendance.

Frankly, this damages the GLBT image. It drives away good, responsible GLBT people from attending, and it cheapens the event.

A loss for the community? Yes, but that loss is not about a free event in the park. It’s a loss of reason, a loss of responsibility, a loss of respect and decency.

Americans in general have lost it. Some in the GLBT community have lost it. Fencing in the park was a last resort effort to control the drunkenness and the sanity during our festival.

The decision would have been taken out of our hands next year anyway. The Tavern Guild made the only good choice, and thanks to that decision, the festival will continue, “for now.”

Alan Pierce
Treasurer, Dallas Tavern Guild


More on charging for the Festival

Though I understand the reasoning, I think they will find that far fewer people attend the event, myself included … unless truly there is big name entertainment.

Bummer, via DallasVoice.com


The entire “Pride” thing is a joke. There is no pride. Its an excuse to be exhibionistic and to get stinking drunk. Sad, sad, sad.

Jim, via DallasVoice.com


This is what you get when you allow a community event to be sponsored by a group of business people whose main concern is getting a large amount of people into their bars and drinking their overpriced drinks. Lee Park is a PUBLIC PARK and the idea that a business group could fence it and charge admission goes against everything the idea of a public park should be. Of course, if the Tavern Guild is decrying the amount of “drunks” at the parade, they have no one to blame but themselves. Pride Schmide.

Brett, via DallasVoice.com


It (charging admission) is a great idea. I wish it would have happened sooner. I re-read the article and the negative comments seem extreme and unfounded.

Little Monster, via DallasVoice.com


Log Cabin Republicans was planning on having a booth as it always does at the festival until we read about the rule changes. The rule changes will impede attendance as much or more than the $5.

Can you imagine Lee Park with a perimeter fence? Nobody will be able to enter without going through a main entrance. Can you imagine renting a booth and not being allowed to bring in a cooler for your workers and guests? We just offer water and soft drinks, but coolers are now prohibited.

I don’t believe these rules will stand for very long as surely nobody will commit to a festival that nobody will attend.

Robert Schlein, via DallasVoice.com

—  John Wright

The end of the free festival

Announcement this week that there will be an admission fee to Lee Park after the parade marks a loss for the community

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

I am pretty sure everyone has heard me talk about the Alan Ross Freedom Parade. I am a fan of gay Pride parades, and though for some arcane reason we hold our parade in the most humid part of summer, it’s still a lot of fun and a good PR move for the LGBT community.

And then there is the party at Lee Park.

Since I wear leather during the parade, by the time I get to Lee Park, I pretty much just want to trudge back to my air-conditioned car and head home. Thus is the life of an aging leatherman.

Others stay at the park and enjoy the music and speeches during what had been one of the best-attended, free outdoor events for the community. I use the past tense because the Dallas Tavern Guild, the association who took the parade over in 1982, plans to charge a $5 admission for the “Festival in Lee Park” starting this year.

Additionally, they will allow no coolers or alcohol in the park. Of course, they will happily sell you beer and soft drinks at hefty prices, but according to the organizers it’s not their fault: They actually blame the terrorists, or at least the Homeland Security Act passed after 9/11.

Whatever the reason, it will be a loss for the community. Damned few things are free nowadays and the Lee Park gathering was something that felt organic and fun.

Yes I know they have charged to set up booths for organizations at the park, and I know they provide sound systems, port-a-potties and pay the city to clean up the mess. I don’t begrudge them one cent of that.

What I miss was the idea that it was, at least on the surface, a real community event.

The park gathering was a chance for the LGBT community to actually experience being together for a change. As the Gayborhood becomes more gentrified and development crowds out more and more gay-owned or gay-friendly businesses, it’s nice to able to just be with a big group of LGBT folks and their allies. Those kinds of experiences are becoming far and few between.

So as for myself, I will still don my leather and ride or walk in the parade. There will undoubtedly be thousands of people lining the streets to cheer and enjoy the floats and entries. I will throw beads and goodies to LGBT and straight people alike and for some of them — especially the kids who attend — it will be a positive experience.

Those positive associations with LGBT people are valuable for the future.

Some day the old bigots will die off and leave a “post-Will & Grace” generation in charge who see LGBT people as just another part of their world.

They will remember the fun of the parade, the outrageous costumes and the beads and trinkets. They will most likely have a lot less animosity toward LGBT people than their parents, and that’s a good thing for everyone.

There is far too much hate in this world, so a little fun and frivolity and outrageousness is almost always appreciated.

So I will be in the parade, and for now that is still a free event. For now.

I suspect in a couple of years the Halloween street party on Cedar Springs will have an admission fee, too. Funny how Homeland Security hasn’t necessitated that yet? Oh well, those durned terrorists are sure to spoil that fun as well.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

Complaint: LGBT immigrants abused, neglected at detention centers run by Homeland Security

The National Immigration Justice Center has filed civil rights complaints on behalf of 13 LGBT immigrants who were allegedly abused and neglected at detention centers run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in nine states, including one in Houston. The Heartland Alliance’s NIJC filed the complaints today in a letter addressed to Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, calling on the department to investigate and implement new policies.

The group has also launched a petition calling on the DHS and President Barack Obama to end the abuse of LGBT immigrants in detention.

The 13 complaints include allegations of sexual assault, denial of adequate medical care, long-term solitary confinement, discrimination and abuse, and ineffective complaints and appeals process. Below are a few examples from the letter, which you can download in its entirety here:

• [Juan] was sexually assaulted by two other detainees. Despite repeated requests for a transfer to another facility because he feared for his safety [Juan] was not transferred until three months after the incident, when ICE Headquarters intervened. In the meantime, the only “protection” that the Otero County Detention Center offered was placement in the “hole.” (Otero County Detention Center, New Mexico)

• [Delfino] was held in segregation for four months, justifying their decision on the basis that [Delfino] presented “effeminately.” Facility staff refused to provide [Delfino] a Bible and permitted him only one hour of recreation – in a cold nine- by-thirteen-foot cell – per day. (Houston Processing Center, Texas)

• [Monica] continues to be denied hormone therapy, despite her use of hormones for ten years prior to immigration detention, and her physical and psychological reliance on them. [Monica], now detained for over five months, told NIJC staff, “I can’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore,” due to returning facial and body hair and other distressing changes. [Monica], an asylum seeker who has suffered grave past abuse in Mexico, also received no treatment for her trauma- related depression. She attempted suicide in February 2011 – the facility put her in solitary confinement as punishment. (Santa Ana City Jail, California)

• [Alexis] was repeatedly called a “faggot” by guards, who also made jokes about her dying of AIDS. They singled her out for public searches in which they forced her to remove her outer clothing and mocked her exposed breasts. (Theo Lacy Facility, California)

—  John Wright

‘We have did what was right for Arizona’

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona is up for re-election this fall. Brewer, a Republican, took over for Janet Napolitano in 2008 when Napolitano became secretary of Homeland Security. Brewer is best known for supporting and signing that state’s new anti-immigration law.

While we don’t usually highlight politics in other states unless it’s LGBT-related, but this one-minute video is really very funny. Or embarrassing. But how else could it turn out when you start by saying “It’s  great to be here with Larry, Barry and Carrie … I have … shit … done so much …”

—  David Taffet

Huffington Post takes offense at ABC references to Napolitano as lesbian

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano
Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano

The Huffington Post took offense at an ABC News report that referred to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as “Big Sis.”

Well, it wasn’t really ABC that referred to her that way. It was Drudge. ABC was just mentioning the fact that “a conservative blogger” calls her that. Of course, that’s as legitimate as my writing something like this: Surprise was expressed as Dick Cheney survived another heart attack. Cheney, whom some liberal bloggers claim have no heart, has been suffering from heart disease since his 30s. Of course, I didn’t say that.

And, of course, in the ABC report, when they mention Joe Lieberman, they don’t snidely say, “Who many Democrats call a traitor” or “Whose whiny voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard.” Or when referring to Susan Collins, they don’t refer to her as a Senator that can’t be trusted to support either side in the health care debate.

Nope, the only snide reference is to Napolitano to imply that she is a lesbian. But I’m glad they did. Even though Napolitano has never confirmed or denied her sexual orientation, I feel much safer believing she is a lesbian. Even if she’s not. Which isn’t really my business because it has nothing to do with the way she does her job.

—  David Taffet