Calling all homophobic florists, bakers and photographers

Taffet,DavidFlorists, cake bakers and wedding photographers across Texas will be called upon to violate their religious principles by performing their chosen secular professions next week, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the side of marriage equality. Never before have Christians been asked to put aside their beliefs in order to double, maybe triple their incomes. But, of course, it’s not about money.

I do find something odd, however.

After the recent massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., a memorial of flowers appeared outside the church. I’m willing to bet some of the same homophobic florists who are trying to martyr themselves as victims of same-sex marriage are also racists. Yet none complained of the extra business generated as a result of that act of terrorism by a white, Christian thug.

Nor among the racist rants following Trevon Martin’s slaughter did we hear complaints from racist florists in Florida who defended the murderer’s right to shoot an unarmed teenager. No, they took the money and sent the bouquets.


Because florists do business two ways. In one model of their business, someone comes in, picks some flowers, pays for them, takes them with them and leaves. In another, a florist receives an order for a certain floral arrangement or a number of arrangements. Then, the florist fills that order and delivers them.

One’s Christian beliefs do not enter into the transaction — even when one calls himself a Christian, yet maintains racist attitudes and despises the victim.

Let’s take another example and talk about how Christian bakers have never compromised their religious principles to bake a cake.

A bar mitzvah is a Jewish rite of passage. A child, usually at the age of 13, is called to read from the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, for the first time. The religious service is often followed by a party.

I’ve never heard of an anti-Semitic cake baker refusing to bake a cake for a bar mitzvah.

“I’m not baking for that bar mitzvah,” these good Christian bakers should exclaim. “They do same-sex weddings at that synagogue.”

Or when I’ve gone to Kroger to pick up a cake for an after-Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) reception, I’ve never had a cake decorator refuse to write “L’Shanah tovah tikatevu,” meaning “May you be inscribed in the book of life for good year,” a convoluted way of saying happy new year.

“Why that’s for a synagogue of mostly gays right here in Oak Lawn and I bet they do same-sex weddings,” the Christian Kroger cake decorator should indignantly declare.

I’ve had to write down the spelling, but I’ve never been refused. Or called an anti-Jewish epithet.

Yet, I’m sure some of those racist, homophobic bakers we’ve been hearing so much about in the news are also anti-Semitic. I’m sure some of them might even attend First Baptist Church right here in Dallas, Texas — the same church whose pastor made such horrific statements about the Holocaust recently that the Dallas Holocaust Museum invited him to visit so he could learn some actual history.

Why, doesn’t the very concept of a bar mitzvah or a religious year that doesn’t coincide with their religious year fly in the face of their version Christianity?

It certainly does, as much as my synagogue continuing to perform marriages between two people that may soon be recognized by the state of Texas and the federal government.

But I’ve never heard of an outcry among Christian bakers to boycott Jewish cakes. Instead, I’ll bet my cake decorator went home and had a funny story to tell.

“I decorated a cake today that said ‘Happy New Year’ in Hebrew! In September!” I’ll bet she said.

For wedding cakes, the average price in Dallas is $2-3.50 per slice. For an average-sized wedding of 100 guests, that a $200-350 sale. Sorry to burden your religious principles by having to write “Adam and Steve” rather than “Adam and Eve,” to put it in words you’ve repeated so many times you’ve become a boring cliché. And the gays don’t like to skimp. I think the average cake sale will be higher than that.

Then there are those homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic wedding photographers. Photographers get a little trickier, and it has nothing to do with their religious beliefs. The photographer will actually be at the event.

At an interracial or black wedding, the couple wouldn’t want a photographer who despises them. Photography is an art and it will show in the finished product with lousy photographs. A Jewish or interfaith couple wouldn’t want a photographer spewing anti-Semitic rants at the guests or one who didn’t understand and embrace the customs.

A Jewish couple wants a great photograph of breaking the glass and needs the photographer to know that when everyone dances around the couple and parents hoisted on chairs, it is a big deal. The photographer needs to know how to get the memorable shots.

Same thing at a same-sex wedding. In states that have marriage equality, photographers have learned that shooting a same-sex wedding is its own art form. One groom won’t be coyly posed on the other groom’s lap. Nor will one throw the bouquet. There may not be bridesmaids wearing gowns designed to make an ugly bride look better, but there may be a whole bevy of groomslesbians. Two women may both be wearing dresses. One or both may be in tuxedos. Its just formal wear. No need to freak out.

For a photographer looking to avoid weddings between same-sex couples, there are easy and polite ways to avoid them. It’ll take some work and something called courtesy. These suggestions won’t work for someone looking to start screaming, “I’m Christian and I’m being discriminated against because you’re getting married. It’s the same thing as the Holocaust.”

Here’s how to do what you’re comfortable doing in a way that insults no one and avoids charges of discrimination.

“I have no experience doing same-sex weddings,” a photographer might say, honestly.

“Thanks for letting us know,” the gay or lesbian couple should respond and look for someone who does have experience or is eager to gain that experience. The couple will be happier with the results. The unwilling photographer will lose out on a big, new market.

Or the photographer might say, “Oooo, June 14 you say? I’m sorry, I’m booked for every weekend in June next year.”

That photographer was polite and avoided covering something that will be uncomfortable for him or her. The gay or lesbian couple finds someone who wants the business. Everyone’s happy. No one is charging discrimination. No one’s religious convictions are violated.

Do these versions of politeness cover up bigotry? I’m not sure they really do, because I don’t think any homophobic baker, florist or photographer will be able to use them. They’re so blinded by the idea that somehow my civil wedding, which will allow me to file joint taxes with Brian, add him to health insurance policy entirely at my cost if we decide to do so and about 1,000 other special rights heterosexual couples have always enjoyed, interferes with their Christianity demeans and degrades their own religion.

It can’t be on religious grounds that they actually object, unless they’re saying they object to Jewish religious practice. Nothing changes in Judaism. Our rabbis continue performing weddings for same-sex couples, and Israel continues to recognize our marriages.

As one last desperate measure, I have another way to avoid lawsuits and embarrassment for those good Christian bakers, florists and photographers.

If any and all homophobic wedding-related businesses — and that includes venues, restaurants and homophobic Indiana-style pizzerias — will leave their company information here, we’ll make sure a list of those wedding-service providers in the Dallas area who do not want to participate in our joyous occasions is widely distributed. As a caution, some straight people may not want to deal with you either, but why would you want anything to do with those heathens either?

—  David Taffet

Church halts funeral over photo of 2 women kissing

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This photo of protestors gathered outside New Hope Ministries on Tuesday was provided by protest organizer Jose Silva to ABC News

As we here at Dallas Voice are getting ready to publish on Friday, Jan. 16, the first of what is intended to become the annual Dallas Voice Lesbian Issue, we were horrified to come across this story about a Colorado lesbian whose funeral was halted midstream and forced to move to another location because of a homophobic pastor:

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Vanessa Collier

Friends of Vanessa Collier this week protested outside a Lakewood, Colo., church Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 13, after the pastor of New Hope Ministries church stopped their friend’s funeral on Jan. 10 because of a video showing Collier kissing her wife.

Collier, 33, died Dec. 30. She is survived by her wife, Christina Higley, and their two children, among other family members. Jessica Maestas, Collier’s cousin who helped Collier’s mother arrange the funeral, told ABC News that New Hope Ministries was aware that Collier was a lesbian because they told the church about her sexual orientation while they were making funeral arrangements. Maestas also said they told the church that they would be playing a video at the service, and that they had complied with the church’s rule that the video be submitted two days prior to the funeral so church officials could review it.

“I provided the video, and got the okay from the funeral home that we would be able to show it,” Maestas told ABC News.

But last Saturday, about 15 minutes into the funeral, New Hope Pastor Ray Chavez stopped the funeral and told family and friends they would have to remove a video that included photos of Collier kissing Higley, and photos of the two women together with their children. Irate mourners instead gathered up the flowers, the programs for the service and eventually Collier’s casket and moved to a new location. Fortunately, Newcomer Funeral Home, across the street from New Hope Ministries, was able to accommodate the funeral, although the crowd of about 180 had to pack into a room intended for about half that many.

Collier’s longtime friend Victoria Quintana told the Denver Post that the whole incident was “humiliating [and] devastating.”

The Post reported that about four dozen people gathered outside New Hope Ministries on Tuesday afternoon, waving signs saying “Shame on Pastor Ray” and demanding an apology for what happened, as security guards posted around the church made sure none of the protesters moved onto church property.

ABC News also notes that Collier’s relatives say they have received no refund on the money they paid New Hope Ministries to host the funeral.

Both ABC News and the Denver Post said that no one at New Hope Ministries would comment on the situation.

—  Tammye Nash

Lobbyist drafts bill to ban gays from NFL


Jack Burkman

Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League, The Hill reported.

Burkman in a statement said he has garnered political support for the bill, though his statement didn’t mention any specific lawmakers who are behind it.

”We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

Burkman said he came up with the idea after college football star Michael Sam publicly revealed he is gay a few weeks ago. If drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Jason Collins on Sunday became the first openly gay athlete to play for a major men’s professional sports team when he suited up for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Lakers.

A number of Democratic lawmakers voiced their support of Sam after he revealed his sexual orientation in an interview with ESPN, and first lady Michelle Obama hailed him as an “inspiration.”

Burkman was not available to speak with The Hill, but in his statement, he urged Congress to act.

“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it,” Burkman said.

Burkman serves as founder and president of his own lobbying firm, Burkman Associates. He has also worked as of counsel at law firm Holland & Knight. In the 1990s, he served as counsel to then-Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.).

Burkman’s firm, JM Burkman & Associates, signed 70 new clients last year, the most of any K Street firm, a recent review by The Hill found.

The four-lobbyist firm specializes in helping companies secure contracts with the federal government.

—  Steve Ramos

Zeus’ Neal gets national attention for opposing anti-gay Superman scribe

Variants castDallas retailer Richard Neal, owner of Zeus Comics, has become the go-to guy on why DC Comics is being bone-headed about choosing anti-gay activist Orson Scott Card to write its Adventures of Superman trilogy, which the superhero-loving Neal has refused to carry in his store.

Neal, center, is now the subject of a two-part interview on the website ComicsAlliance about the controversy. You can read it here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Was Manti Te’o pretending to be straight so he’d get to play in the NFL?

Why would a star college football player make up a story about a relationship with an out-of-town girlfriend?

If you have a girlfriend, no one is trying to set you up. You don’t have to go on embarrassing dates and pretend to be straight. You don’t have to deal with the woman falling in love with you and end up hurting her.

Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o came in second in Heisman Trophy voting this year and is expected to be a first-round NFL draft pick. That is, unless he has to have real girlfriends to play football.

Te’o “met” Lennay Kukua in 2011. Last fall, she had a terrible car accident and then was diagnosed with leukemia. She was a student at Stanford.

Apparently, Te’o’s relationship with her was entirely on Twitter. He made up the stories about actually meeting her. The Twitter account is gone, but Te’o claims he knew nothing about the hoax.

But stories of the relationship and how he went on to play to make her proud after she “died” were part of most Notre Dame games last fall.

And now, OutSports is asking the question: Is Manti Te’o gay?

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: SMU off Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic schools

For the first time in recent memory, Southern Methodist University is not on the Princeton Review’s “LGBT-unfriendly” list (registration required). Last year, the school was ranked 12th-most homophobic.

Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, was delighted with the news.

“I’ve only worked seven years to get there,” she said.

She said that just because SMU is off the list, it doesn’t mean the work is over. Baylor, for example, had been on the list, dropped off last year but is back in the No. 10 spot this year. Other Texas schools on the homophobic list are Texas A&M at No. 7 and University of Dallas at No. 15.

The most LGBT-unfriendly school this year is Grove City College in Pennsylvania. The most LGBT-friendly school is Emerson College in Boston.

Princeton Review only releases the top and bottom 20 in each category. Here are the other categories in which SMU was ranked this year:

• Best career services: No. 7

• College town gets high marks: No. 16

• Happiest students: No. 15

• Lots of Greek life: No. 12

• Most accessible professors: No. 2

• Most conservative students: No. 17

• Best athletic facilities: No. 10

—  David Taffet

Houston Aeros’ Justin Fontaine suspended for anti-gay tweet

Justin Fontaine

Houston’s American Hockey League team, the Aeros, has suspended player Justin Fontaine for two games after a homophobic tweet from the right winger.

The suspension was handed down from the Aeros’ parent NHL team the Minnesota Wild, who issued a press statement apologizing for Fontaine’s “inappropriate” comment.

Fontaine has since removed the offending tweet and tweeted an apology, saying “Twitter rookie and it came out totally wrong. It was a roommate battle, nothing more.” Missing from Fontaine’s apology was any recognition that it is cruel to use a term for queer people to deride something.

The issue is not that Fontaine used a naughty word, or that he did it in a public venue. The issue is that Fontaine seems to think that words meaning LGBT people are synonyms for “a thing I don’t like.” It’s hard to imagine that that equation does not stem from a dislike for LGBT people.

—  admin

The hurt locker room

Newcomer Lloyd Harvey shed 20 pounds, his dreadlocks, some insecurities and his pants to play a gay baseball stud in Uptown Players’ ‘Take Me Out’


THE FULL HARVEY | Lloyd Harvey bares all — along with most of the cast of the baseball drama ‘Take Me Out’ from Uptown Players. (Photo courtesy Mike Morgan)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

Lloyd Harvey has something to confess — an outing of himself, if you will.

He hates sports. Well, not hate, it’s just that “I’m more of a comic book nerd. I like movies. I never played sports so I never had the ‘locker room experience.’”

This might not be relevant, except that this week, Harvey will find himself not only in a locker room, but naked there. And pretending to be a god among athletes.

If one wasn’t frightening enough, together they are almost too much to take.

Harvey has the lead role in Take Me Out, the Pulitzer Prizewinning play about a mega-star of the baseball diamond who comes out as gay, setting the sports world — especially his diverse bunch of largely homophobic teammates — into a tizzy.

When Harvey auditioned for it, though, he didn’t really expect to get it — he’s tried out for shows at Uptown Players before without success. Plus, he was able to see his competition.

“I was looking around the room and seeing all these chiseled, fit guys and I’m thinking, ‘I won’t get it,’’ he relates. “Then I got a call-back, which was great, but now I’m seeing all these guys with six-pack abs and I’m the guy with a keg.” That’s when he told the producers he would lose 10 pounds. He even cut off the dreadlocks he’d been growing for three years to get the role.

To his surprise, they cast him — and took him up on his offers to cut and trim. That’s when the real work began.

“I started on P90X [workout] and stopped eating fast food that day,” Harvey says. “One of my friends is a personal trainer,  and he made a 20-minute workout to do on top of the P90X. It’s been a total physical change. I weighed 200 pounds in December and now I weigh 180.”

So focused was Harvey, he almost forgot to be nervous about stripping down for the famous shower scene of locker room grab-ass.

“Being an actor — or any kind of artist — you’re putting yourself out there for whatever you do. This is like putting yourself out there double-time. You’re trying not to break the fourth wall while there are a few hundred people watching us. But all you have to do is say ‘Fuck it!’ and have the confidence to go out there and put your heart and your body on the line … though telling my mother I had to do a nude role was an interesting conversation.”

She wasn’t the only one. Harvey has performed at Dallas Children’s Theater and had major roles in community theater productions of Rent and Sweeney Todd, but this is certainly his professional break-through. But it’s also the first time he’s been able to get his friends interested in what he does.

“Before I would do a show and not all my friends would see it. But as soon as I started saying, ‘Yeah, there’s gonna be full nudity in it, ‘every one of my friends bought tickets to see my penis onstage. Some of them threatened to bring cameras. I told them that’s a no-go. ‘Take a picture and I hope you get kicked out of the theater,’ I said. ‘And we certainly won’t be friends anymore.’”

He probably won’t have a hard time making new friends after this anyway.


Oh, ‘Pluck’ it


Steven Walters will be the first person to admit his play Pluck the Day wasn’t the best. You can’t blame him for thinking that — he wrote it 10 years ago, when he already thought he knew everything. When an actor called wanting to submit it to a festival, he thought he was joking. “Sure,” he agreed, “for all the good it’ll do.”

Only it got in, and Walters realized something terrible: He was actually going to have to rewrite it. And re-rewrite. And then again.

It’s almost opening night and he’s still trimming and fixing, whittling down a 2-1/2 hours show into a tight 80 minutes with no intermish.

Pluck the Day was first performed by Second Thought Theatre, which Walters co-founded, in its inaugural season; a decade later, it kicks off STT’s 10th season. It’s like revisiting a long-lost friend. Or maybe frenemy.

“I have a healthy dissatisfaction for everything I do,” Walters says over a beer and burger. “The old script was not good — it was talky and too long. It had no point of view. Now it does.”

The biggest change in the revision, he says,  is in the character of Bill, who we learn is gay. Bill is the only man sitting on a lopey West Texas porch who actually develops; the others remain blissfully content to nurture their decaying way of life. But it’s still a comedy.

“It’s a farce,” Walters assures. “That’s one thing that hasn’t changed.”

— A.W.J.

Bryant Hall next to the Kalita, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Feb. 26. Second

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Perry’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ encore

Below is Rick Perry’s latest ad from South Carolina, entitled “President of Honor,” which is apparently designed to pander appeal to the state’s large military population. We noticed that Perry appears several times during the ad in the same jacket he wore in his infamous anti-gay ad “Strong” — which, as we all know, is quite similar to the jacket Heath Ledger wore in Brokeback Mountain. It’s interesting that despite all the parodies featuring the jacket, Perry hasn’t abandoned the tan Carharrt. Maybe the governor and his campaign are just completely oblivious, as would be suggested by this tidbit out of South Carolina from Politico:

As if Rick Perry didn’t have enough problems.

The Texas governor was greeted at a restaurant in Anderson, S.C., by a young woman who posed for a photo with the Texas governor while saying it is “good to see someone as homophobic and racist as you.”

He smiled, took the photo and moved on.

—  John Wright

Dave Wilson robo-calls Houstonians, warns of Annise Parker’s ‘alternative lifestyle’

Houston mayoral candidate Dave Wilson has stepped up his homophobic attacks against incumbent Mayor Annise Parker with a recent robo-call targeting Houston voters:

“Hello Houstonians, this is Dave Wilson, candidate for mayor. In 2009 I warned voters that Annise Parker would use her position to promote her alternative lifestyle, and she’s done that. Her very first executive order was to allow men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom. Her appointments have been based on sexual orientation, rather than ability. She appointed George Greanias, head of Metro, who was caught viewing porn sites such as Dave Wilson would have fired him on the spot. Join me in taking our city back, vote Dave Wilson, paid for by the Dave Wilson for Mayor.”

Wilson’s call contains several misleading, or outright false, claims, such as saying that Parker’s first executive order was to allow “men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom.” The first executive order Parker signed after being sworn in (E.O. #1-50), clarified the process for filing sexual harassment claims for city employees. The second (E.O #1-25) dealt with city operations during a natural disaster, the third (E.O. #1-42) with city credit cards, and the fourth (E.O. 1-14) with the city’s procurement procedure. The fifth and sixth executive orders signed by Parker (E.O. 1-8 and E.O. 1-20) dealt with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression and the use of hate language by City of Houston employees while on the job. Both order were signed on March 25, 2011, 2 months and 23 days after Parker took office. These are is the ones that chafe Wilson. Under order 1-20 access to public accommodations in city buildings, including restrooms, cannot be denied to any member of the public because they are LGBT. While Wilson fears “men in dresses” discretely handling their business in the stall next to his wife, he seems to miss that it also allows burly, bearded men who happened to have been assigned a female identity at birth to use the men’s room. One wonders if he’s ever thought about that.

Executive Order 1-20 is about basic courtesy and access to public facilities that most of us take for granted. No one should be put in the position of risking arrest for using a public restroom (which happened shortly after E.O. 1-20 went into effect), and it is humiliating to expect trans Houstonians to have to ask “which bathroom do you expect me to use” every time they’re in a city building.

The situation with George Greanias, CEO of Houston’s public transit system Metro, is far more complicated than Wilson describes it. To hear the robo-call you’d think Greanias was simply caught looking at pornography, a constitutionally protected right. The issue is that Greanias was caught looking at porn on Metro’s internet wi-fi, all be it accidentally. According to the Metro investigation Greanias accessed sites containing gay oriented adult material on 14 separate days between February 9, 2011 to July 1, 2011. The access was from Greanias’ personal computer and he believed through his personal internet access. In a letter to Metro employees he explained that “the violation was unintentional. I thought I was using my own computer, but was in fact in Metro’s system — but it was a violation all the same. The sites I accessed were of a sexual nature — to say the least, highly inappropriate, and embarrassing.”

Typically a violation of this nature by a Metro employee would have resulted in a verbal warning. Because of the high profile nature of Greanias’ job he received a much harsher punishment. According to Metro’s official statement “Chairman Gilbert Garcia has concluded that, as president and CEO, Mr. Greanias must be held to a higher standard, and decided instead of a warning Mr. Greanias would receive a more stringent punishment of one week suspension, without pay.”

None of that matters to Wilson. He “would have fired [Greanias] on the spot,” bypassing the review process guaranteed to all Metro employees and likely subjecting the city to a very expensive lawsuit. More than his overt homophobia, it’s Wilson’s blind ignorance of the procedural facts of running a city that should frighten Houstonians.

Early voting in Houston municipal elections (including mayor) continues through Nov. 3 at all early voting locations. Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting turnout continues to lag; votes cast during the first four days of voting have trailed the 2009 municipal election turnout by 21%.

—  admin