Equality TX rakes in $4k in donations on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day

Equality Texas utilized Wednesday’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day as a donation day for those who do not support the chicken chain.

Donors were encouraged to give $6.50, the cost of a chicken sandwich meal, to the organization, but other amounts could also be donated.

Deputy Executive Director Chuck Smith said 281 donors gave money Wednesday totaling $4,350. In addition, five new donors signed up to give monthly.

He said the funds would most likely go to fund the Equality Project, which is a public education program that travels across Texas.

Smith said he was surprised with the media coverage about the appreciation day that focused primarily on the company’s right to freedom of speech. He said members and allies of the LGBT community are not criticizing the freedom of speech, but the message that was behind the president’s recent comments and the actions of the company by donating to anti-gay organizations.

“No one is questioning Chick-fil-A or Dan Cathy’s right to free speech,” he said. “This is about disagreeing with them giving millions of dollars to fund discrimination and homophobia.”

Tomorrow is a national same-sex kiss-in day at Chick-fil-A. Smith said the organization wasn’t planning another donation day, but people can donate anytime online.

—  Dallasvoice

Ex-Dallasite’s Rainbow Chronicle website rates people, places according to gay-friendliness

Travis Lowry

Former Dallas resident Travis Lowry recently launched a national website for the LGBT community to rank professional businesses, events, venues and even public officials based on their LGBT-friendliness.

Rainbow Chronicle allows people to search for businesses and people by zip codes and major cities, but visitors must register to post a review or to comment, Lowry said.

The site has roughly 4,500 frequent users with about 800 sustained users, who Lowry said visit the site about every three days.

The site can be used to find a place to take a same-sex date without awkwardness or to preview an upcoming event. But Lowry said he also wanted to give a voice to people who interact with pubic officials, especially since many conservative areas never see LGBT issues discussed at election time.

“Local leaders play a huge part in people’s lives,” Lowry said. “It’s really, really hard to find voting records, so having computer-generated reviews based on the people who interact with them is helpful.”

—  Dallasvoice

Person in media I hate most today: Piers Morgan

By now you’ve certainly heard the comments made by irrelevant-former-sitcom-star-cum-bad-all-around-Jesus-freak-actor Kirk Cameron about gays. That he was even given a forum on a national show kinda surprises me — what could Cameron have to say about anything at this late date that could be of even passing intellectual/entertainment/political relevance? They might as well book Squiggy.

But what I really find distasteful is Piers Morgan defending Cameron for being “brave” in saying what he thinks.

Hmmm. Now, Piers: I know you’re not an American. I know you think a gossip peddler like Rupert Murdoch defines good journalism (which, in England, it probably does). I know with a name like Piers Morgan, you probably have some Frenchman in ya, and thus are unaffiliated with what bravery really is. But please, spouting off ignorant bigotry doesn’t make you brave; instead, it makes you — what’s the term? — oh, yeah: An ignorant bigot. I wonder if you would describe James Earl Ray for being brave for assassinating a man he really didn’t agree with. Or Orville Faubus for being brave for bullying black teenagers and defying the U.S. Supreme Court for wanting to end segregation. Or how about those kids in Wyoming who beat Matthew Shepard to death because they sincerely felt it was inappropriate for him to hit on them. We, sir, have different definitions of bravery.

For instance, I don’t consider you brave in defending Cameron. I consider you a moron. I guess it’s brave for a moron to go on TV every night and hope people don’t see through his ignorance. But I prefer to save to term brave for my grandfather, who ran up the beaches of Normandy on June 3, 1944 to stave off the exact kind of hatred and misinformation that, 70 years later, Cameron and his ilk seem to still believe. You disgust me, Piers Morgan, if you think spouting off homophobia is anything other than pathetic and misinformed.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Balch Springs PD: Investigation into gay man’s death is ongoing

Police chief says anti-gay behavior by officers not tolerated, says such behavior by investigator is unlikely

Police_Chief_Morris

Police Chief Ed Morris

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

BALCH SPRINGS — Balch Springs Police Chief Ed Morris said an investigation into the death of a gay man in his city is ongoing. Answering charges of homophobia in his department lodged by the dead man’s family, Morris said that he doesn’t tolerate that sort of behavior in his officers.

The body of Rodney Johnson was found in his trailer in Balch Springs on Nov. 12.

Morris said that there was no sign of foul play in Johnson’s death but that his department is awaiting test results from the Dallas County medical examiner before proceeding with an investigation. Those results take about three months to return.

Johnson’s sister Duby Redburn said that the officer she spoke to snickered and said, “I don’t know what sort of lifestyle he led,” when describing what he found.

“He was very insensitive,” Redburn said of the detective’s behavior.

Morris made it clear he wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behavior from his officers.

“I don’t think any of my officers would make an anti-gay comment,” he said.

He said that if he thought that any officer was guilty of that sort of behavior, that officer would be in his office immediately and he would take care of it. But Morris said he would especially surprised if he heard it about the specific officer Redburn accused.

Johnson did not show up for work at his job as a security guard at a Bank of America branch on Thursday, Nov. 10. His supervisor became worried when she couldn’t reach him by phone, so she drove to his home. When he didn’t answer the door, she called police.

The supervisor and Johnson’s family have said police never responded to the call.

But Morris said department records indicate that Johnson’s supervisor’s call to police was logged at 2:41 p.m. on Nov. 11, and that a patrol car was dispatched to Johnson’s address at 2:49 p.m. He said that was reasonable response time for that sort of non-emergency “welfare check” call.

Police arrived at 3:03 p.m. at the location, Morris said.

The officer responding to the call reported that there was no odor coming from the trailer.

He asked neighbors about Johnson’s car that was parked in an odd position. Neighbors said it had been there for several days.

Morris said they searched records to see if there were additional calls from the supervisor’s phone number but could not find any, although the supervisor said she had called both 911 and the department’s direct line phone number.

A police department spokesman initially told Dallas Voice there was no record of either call.

Johnson’s body was found the next day when his brother, Roger Johnson, got a call from Rodney’s boyfriend in Canada, worried that he hadn’t heard from him. Roger Johnson used his key to the trailer to enter, and found his brother lying on the floor, face down.

Roger Johnson had said his brother’s body was lying in a pool of blood.

The call record indicates police were dispatched in 30 seconds and arrived in minutes.

Morris said he didn’t recall seeing any blood on the floor in the police pictures taken before Johnson was transported by helicopter to the hospital. But he said the body showed signs of lividity, meaning the blood had settled to the lower part of the body, which indicated he had been lying on the floor for some time before he was found.

Other issues remain unresolved, such as an unauthorized attempt to access Johnson’s bank account the week after his death. But since the original article appeared in

Dallas Voice on Dec. 23, Redburn has been in touch with city officials and has been assured the case is still open.
Last year, Balch Springs had no homicides.

“The crime rate’s been down for the last few years,” Morris said. “We want to keep it that way.”
But he said that if there is an indication from the medical examiner that Johnson’s death was caused by anything other than natural causes, “We will actively investigate.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Equality Texas slams Perry

Dennis Coleman

As we noted below, it sounds as though Rick Perry is staying in the Republican presidential race, at least until the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary. But before Perry could announce his intentions, Equality Texas, the statewide LGBT advocacy group in his home state, issued a statement rejoicing in the governor’s poor showing in Iowa and declaring that Perry “will not be the next president of the United States.” Here’s the full text:

Statement from Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman on Governor Rick Perry’s Performance in the Iowa Caucus

The good news is that Texas Governor Rick Perry will not be the next president of the United States. Governor Perry’s homophobic pandering did not resonate with Iowa voters just as it does not resonate in Texas.

As Governor Perry returns to Texas to reflect on his campaign, it is our hope at Equality Texas that he will also reflect on what Texans really want for their state.

Over 75% of Texas voters support prohibiting employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation (1), and over 63% of Texas voters support legal recognition for same-gender couples (2).

It is time our Governor recognize that homophobia and transphobia have no place in our great state and he should join in the effort to eradicate them from all public policy.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Santorum painfully drowns in his own BS as he justifies his homophobia

I think what bothers me the most is that there are otherwise intelligent people who think Rick Santorum should run the country. Last night’s Iowa caucus was proof of that. With all these arguments and prejudices and ignorance, he shouldn’t even be allowed to run a Wendy’s.

To me, this is even more humiliating than Rick Perry forgetting most of his platform.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Florida Family Association’ founder moves from anti-gay campaigns to anti-Muslim efforts

I don’t watch reality shows, for the most part, and I haven’t watched The Learning Channel‘s new reality offering called All-American Muslim. From what I understand, after the first couple of episodes, the show is not getting good reviews.

David Caton of the Florida Family Association

But it is getting a lot of attention, thanks in large part to the Florida Family Association’s campaign to get advertisers to pull existing ads and not agree to advertise on the show in the future. Of course, FFA’s campaign has nothing to do with the quality of the program, and everything to do with David Caton‘s anti-Muslim bigotry.

Caton, who is executive director — and the only staff member — for FFA, claims All-American Muslim is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

TLC’s website for All-American Muslim explains that the show takes a look at life in Dearborn, Michigan — home to the largest mosque in the United States — through the lens of five Muslim American families.” One of the men on the show, Mike Jaafar, is a deputy chief sheriff, something Caton apparently takes great exception to. On the FFA website, Caton says, “One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a Muslim police officer stated ‘I really am American.  No ifs and or buts about it.’”

Personally, I don’t see anything particularly troubling about a deputy chief sheriff making such a declaration, but Caton says Jaafar’s statement is “damage control for the Dearborn Police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity.”

Anyway, Caton claims FFA’s efforts have convinced Lowe’s and Kayak.com to pull their advertising from the TLC program. I don’t know about Lowe’s, but Robert Birge, chief marketing officer for Kayak.com, said his company’s decision regarding advertising on the program had nothing to do with Caton and the FFA; he said the company would no longer advertise on the program because All-American Muslim “sucked.” He also said TLC had misled his company about the content of the program, and that Kayak.com had not actually pulled advertising but instead had decided not to renew advertising on the program, according to this report by Reuters.

So by now you may be wondering why an LGBT news site is reporting on a boycott of a show about Muslims. I mean, the Islamic faith is not known for its progressive stance on LGBT issues.

The reason, actually, is simple: Bigotry is bigotry is bigotry. The right-winger that is so up in arms about a TV program possibly showing Muslim people in a positive light is the same right-winger who made a name for himself fighting LGBT rights.

—  admin

Brandon McInerney pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder in 2008 shooting of Larry King

Brandon McInerney, left, has pleaded guilty to shooting his gay classmate, Lawrence "Larry" King to death in February 2008, when McInerney was 14 and King was 15.

More than three years after he pulled out a gun in a junior high computer lab and shot classmate Larry King in the head, Brandon McInerney pleaded guilty on Monday to second-degree murder. Sentencing is set for sometime in December, and prosecutors have said McInerney will be sentenced to 21 years in prison, without time off for good behavior, according to MSNBC.com.

McInerney has already served four years in jail and will be 38 by the time he is released.

The plea deal comes after prosecutors’ first efforts to convict McInerney on murder and hate crime charges in July ended in a mistrial. In planning for a second trial, prosecutors had decided to drop the hate crimes charge because jurors in the first trial did not believe prosecutors’ charges that McInerney was a white supremacist who acted out of hatred for gays.

King, 15 at the time of his death, was an openly gay student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif., and McInerney, 14 at the time, was angry that King had been flirting with him. On Feb. 12, 2008, McInerney carried a gun to school in his backpack. When he went into the computer lab, he walked up behind King, shot him once in the head and then shot him again as King lay on the floor. King died two days later after being taken off life support.

The murder sparked headlines and outrage around the country. But when McInerney went to trial in July, his defense attorneys denied that he had been motivated by anti-gay hatred and worked to convince jurors the school was at fault for not reining in King’s flamboyant behavior in class. And on Monday, King’s mother, Dawn King, told the LA Times that she had contacted the school four days before the shooting to ask for school officials’ help in “toning down” her son’s behavior. She said school officials told her that her son had a civil right to explore his sexuality.

Authorities had removed Larry King from his home two months earlier because of domestic problems.

Teachers at E.O. Green Junior High also testified at McInerney’s trial in July that they had tried to warn administrators about “growing tensions” between Larry King and some of the boys in his class, but that the administrators had “shunned them.” The LA Times reports that teachers and students alike testified at the trial that King had been wearing makeup and women’s accessories and “flirting aggressively with male students on campus who did not want the attention.”

Following the mistrial in July, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network Executive Director Eliza Byard said prosecutors should have “done the just and merciful thing” and reached a plea agreement with McInenery because the trial created a “painful spectacle that accomplished nothing.”

Following Monday’s announcement that a plea arrangement had been reached, Byard said:

“The plea deal announced today ends a tragic chapter in Ventura County. Holding Brandon McInerney accountable for his actions is necessary and right, but putting him behind bars does not solve the problems that led a boy to become a bully, and then a murderer.  Homophobia and transphobia, compounded by the lack of counseling and other supports for struggling young people, resulted in Larry King’s death and the effective end of Brandon McInerney’s life. As adults and as a society, we must find the resolve to fix the broken systems that lost two young lives to hate and fear. The end to this painful chapter must now serve as a new beginning. Ventura County along with communities and school districts everywhere must come together to promote a culture of respect and nurture the true potential found in every individual regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

—  admin

Houston Chronicle pulls endorsement of school board member Rodriguez over anti-gay flier

Manuel Rodriguez

The Houston Chronicle has rescinded its endorsement of Houston Independent School District Trustee Manuel Rodriquez over an anti-gay flier distributed by the Rodriquez campaign. As previously reported by Houstini, the flier attacked Rodriquez’s opponent, Ramiro Fonseca, for his history of advocating for LGBT people, and his endorsement by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. The flier also suggested that Fonseca being 52 and unmarried is a reason that Houstonians should not trust him to make decisions affecting children, and points out that he has a “male partner.”

In the online opinion piece removing their endorsement, the Chronicle editorial board called out the overt homophobia in the Rodriquez flier.

“With his hateful flier, Rodriguez perpetuates the kind of stereotypes that put our kids in danger. And he implies that all right-thinking people agree with him – an insult to his constituents, and precisely the kind of blithe, old-school homophobia that makes school hallways so treacherous.

Members of the school board are supposed to be role models, not bullies. They’re supposed to support civil rights, not fight against them. They’re supposed to fight hate speech, not commit it.”

In response to the Rodriquez flyer the Houston GLBT Political Caucus had encouraged people to contact the editorial board and ask that the Chronicle endorsement be rescinded. “Certainly we’re very pleased that the Chronicle has taken this step,” said Caucus president Noel Freeman. “They recognize that there is no place for this kind of homophobia on the school board.” Freeman added the next step for the Caucus will be to continue to work to elect Fonseca. “We’re looking for volunteers who can help us by handing out literature at the polls.”

Until this recent controversy very little attention had been paid to the District III HISD race outside of political circles. No scientific polling on the race has been made public, but it’s considered to be a dead heat, with neither candidate having a clear advantage. It remains to be seen how the Rodriquez flier, and the overwhelmingly negative response it has garnered, will affect the outcome of the race.

HISD elections are part of the general elections taking place this Tuesday, Nov 8. Visit HarrisVotes.org to find your voting location and view a sample ballot.

—  admin

Creech advocates for LGBT rights

Pastor lost his ordination in 1999 for performing same-sex wedding

Creech-11-Author-Photo-by-Natalia-Weedy

The Rev. Jimmy Creech (Courtesy of Natalia Weedy)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com
It was in the 1980s that a member of  the Rev. Jimmy Creech’s  church came out to him as gay, it didn’t just turn the Methodist minister into an LGBT equality supporter, it also set him onto a path of advocacy that eventually cost him his ordination

“It changed my perspective and attitude,” Creech, who will be in the Dallas area speaking at several area churches Oct. 31-Nov. 2, said this week of that coming out moment. “It began to challenge my ideas about homosexuality.”

One of Creech’s early triumphs advocating for the LGBT community was lobbying the Raleigh, N.C., City Council to include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy in 1988. He said that passage of the ordinance while

Jesse Helms was still the state’s senator made the victory so much sweeter.

But most of Creech’s work has been within the Methodist Church.

“I was concerned the messaging [about homosexuality] was condemnatory,” he said. “Everything you heard a religious leader say was negative.”

So he sponsored conferences about “Homophobia and the Bible,” in an attempt to “educate about the damaging theology in Christian tradition,” he said.

In 1990, Creech performed his first holy union.

“Two men asked if I’d do it,” he said. “I agreed without hesitation. How can you support an individual and deny their relationship?”

He performed more ceremonies over the next few years, and it was no problem since the Methodist Church had no prohibition against doing so — until 1996.

That year, Creech moved to a church in Nebraska where he continued welcoming LGBT people and honoring their relationships. But after he presided over a holy union for a lesbian couple in 1997, charges were brought against him for violating the Order and Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

He was acquitted in a church trial.

Creech said the reason was very technical. The prohibition was added to the social principles rather than to religious law. Social principles guide moral behavior.

“My defense was that it was not law,” he said.

And that defense was successful. However after his trial, the one sentence prohibiting Methodist clergy from performing a same-sex wedding was given the weight of law. Creech said it is the only sentence in the social principles to have that designation, something he called “institutional bigotry.”

After his acquittal, Creech moved back to North Carolina and in 1999 charges were filed against him again after he presided over the wedding of two men in Chapel Hill. This time, a jury found him guilty of “disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church” and withdrew his credentials of ordination.

Since then, Creech has been writing and speaking about LGBT rights. His recently released book, Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays, deals with his experiences with the church’s struggle to welcome and accept LGBT people.

In his book, Creech explains that he defied church law to do what he thought God would want him to do.

“As a pastor, my mission was to help people overcome whatever damaged them spiritually, whatever diminished their capacity to trust God’s love, to love others and to love themselves,” he wrote.

Although heterosexual, Creech has appeared on Out Magazine’s Out 100 list several times, and he received the HRC Equality Award in 1999.

Northaven United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Eric Folkerth said, “Jimmy Creech stands as a powerful witness to those who have been standing up for social justice.”

Folkerth said 1,000 Methodist clergy have recently signed a pledge that if asked, they would perform a same-sex wedding. Many were in marriage-equality states New York and Connecticut.

And while performing a same-sex wedding remains “absolutely still a chargeable offense,” according to Folkerth, the church courts hearing the charges have differed in their response.

Creech said that each of those pastors could be charged.

“But do you want to spend all of the church’s resources on this?” he asked.

He said each one would have to be tried individually.

“Bishops will find a way to get around it,” he said.

Folkerth called it “open dissent against what is church law.”

He said that although this region is more conservative than some others, gays and lesbians are welcome not only at his church but a number of other Methodist churches in the area.
Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth. Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. Reception follows.
Northaven United Methodist Church, 11211 Preston Road. Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.
Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Guest preacher at contemporary worship service, Nov. 2 at 7:15 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas