WATCH: Barney Frank takes ownership of ‘the radical homosexual agenda’

Rep. Barney Frank

Rep. Barney Frank had a number of one-liners in TV appearances last weekend following the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

He said he wondered what would have happened if he or another elected official had suggested exempting gays and lesbians from service.

”We have this important idea,” Frank said on Hardball on MSNBC. “Let’s exempt gay and lesbian people from having to defend the country. You talk about people complaining about special rights.”

“Showering with homosexuals?” he said in an interview with CNS, a conservative media watchdog. “What do you think happens in gyms all over America? What do you think happens in the House of Representatives? Of course people shower with homosexuals. What a silly issue!”

“Remember, under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ by the way, the policy was that you would be showering with homosexuals, you just weren’t supposed to know which was which,” he said.

Speaking after the repeal, Frank said in a press conference that there is a “radical homosexual agenda” — to be protected against violent crimes driven by bigotry, to be able to get married, to be able to get a job and to be able to fight for our country.

And he put those worried about it on notice: “Two down. Two to go.”

But in a more serious assessment on Hardball, he said, “Giving gay and lesbian people the chance to show, in the most challenging thing you can do in America, that we really are just like everybody else, except for our choices about what we do in intimate moments, will do more to help us destroy the myth.”

—  David Taffet

Looking for Jack Borden’s family. Can you help?

Jack Borden

I received a call this afternoon from a Marilu Thorn, a social worker with the Dallas Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Unit who is trying to find family of longtime LGBT community activist Jack Borden.

Jack is having some health issues, and Ms. Thorn wants to locate any of his relatives who could help out with the situation.

I have known Jack for years, and I think I remember him talking to me about his son and his grandson. But I have no idea what their names are or where they might live. From what Jack told me back in 2006 when he was running for the Texas House of Representatives, he is a Pennsylvania native who moved to Texas in 1975 after serving in the U.S. Air Force. He told me he was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Knights of Columbus.

Ms. Thorn has asked that anyone with any information at all call her office at 214-671-3497. If she doesn’t answer, please leave a message.

—  admin

Rep. Johnson expects tough time for LGBT rights

Democrat wins 10th term, but says with Republicans in control, many LGBT-positive bills won’t get heard

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, right, and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert
HONORING VETERANS | Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, right, and Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert were among those participating in Dallas’ Veterans Day parade on Thursday. Johnson said repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is possible during the lame duck session, but questionable. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson has been considered a friend to the LGBT community since she served in the Texas House of Representatives.

“I grew up black in Waco, Texas. It’s just hard for me to fight against anybody’s rights,” said the woman who just won re-election to Congress.
But Johnson dates her firm commitment to LGBT equality to a much more recent event.

She said that throughout her life she fought for civil rights, but “When they [the LGBT community] really got my attention was when they [anti-gay conservatives] were talking about putting something in the Constitution,” she said. “You know, I have never seen them amend the Constitution to take rights away from people. So that’s just the beginning and the end of my philosophy.”

Johnson told a story about the subtle discrimination that she encountered in her first job as the first black nurse at the Dallas VA Hospital.
She worked a shift until midnight. When she got off on time, she’d catch the last bus to her home downtown.

But her supervisors purposely liked to delay her so that she’d miss the bus and have to walk up Lancaster Road and across the Corinth StreetBridge to get downtown.

“It brings tears to my eyes even now,” she said.

But Johnson said she had on her comfortable white nursing shoes, all those nights, and she made it home. And she made it to Congress, where she hopes she’s helped make other people’s lives easier.

On Monday, Nov. 15, the lame duck session of Congress opens. But Johnson said she doesn’t “anticipate a lot” of movement on the several bills of interest to the LGBT community that have been languishing this session.

She said that the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has already passed the House, where she serves, and that the Senate has the votes. But still, she isn’t hopeful it will go through.

She said she believes that if DADT had to come back to the House because of amendments, it would pass there again. But, “It depends on what the Senate does,” she said.

Since Johnson expects that a number of House members who were defeated will not return for the lame duck session, she isn’t hopeful that other legislation of interest to the LGBT community will even be brought to the floor.

She said the House had the votes to pass Employment Nondiscrimination. But if the legislation does come up during the lame duck session, whether it passes will depend on who has shown up for work.

Two immigration bills that might be considered could help the LGBT community: the Dream Act and the Uniting American Families Act. The Dream Act would give people who were brought to this country as children a way to become citizens. UAFA would give an American citizen the right to sponsor a partner for a visa and eventual citizenship, the same way a married spouse currently can.

Johnson noted that Republican Sen. John McCain had been a sponsor of the Dream Act but has since dropped his sponsorship. The bill would have an easier path to passage with his name on it, she said.

Johnson would like to see the omnibus immigration reform bill — which includes the Dream Act and UAFA and has been debated this session — pass while the Democrats are still in control.

“I wish we could because it would be much more acceptable,” she said. “People have to have a path to becoming citizens.”

Whether the two bills that would benefit the LGBT community would be considered in the next session, she couldn’t say.

“They determine what comes to the floor,” she said, referring to the majority party, which will be the Republicans.

Under Republican control, Johnson expects a piecemeal approach to immigration reform.

“If they mean to be productive, that’s one thing,” she said.

But she doesn’t expect that in the new session.

And what would she like in the new Congress?

“To get along,” Johnson said, with a sidelong glance that indicated that she didn’t expect it to happen.

“There’s going to be two parties up there, but it’s going to be the Tea Party and the Republican Party,” she said.

As we spoke in the conference room of her Dallas congressional office earlier this week, she revealed one of her darkest secrets: Some of her best friends in Congress are Republicans.

She also divulged one of her little tricks: Pralines from Neiman Marcus.

“This will make you a little sweeter,” she’ll tell a committee colleague when debating proposed legislation or funding for a project.

When Congress reconvenes in January, Johnson will once again be in the minority. She noted that she has spent fewer terms in office in the majority, so this won’t be anything new for her.

She said Republicans have indicated that 60 percent of each committee will be named from their own party.

“And the rumor is they’re going to cut them in half,” she said regarding committee size.

That will leave Democrats scrambling for committee assignments. She believes her own positions on the Science and Technology Committee and the Transportation Committee are safe because of her seniority, but worries that Democrats will lose the opportunity to develop younger talent.

She recalled the last time Republicans took control of the House in the 1994 sweep. They were in control for the first time in decades and she called their initial leadership “mean-spirited.”

First they fired all House staff, assuming them to be Democrats. Then they closed down a number of offices to outsource the work, including the printing and furniture building offices.

“Most of the furniture we use is made in house,” she said. “They got rid of all that staff and then they found out that to make a desk was $150 — maybe — and to buy one was a thousand.”

Johnson said printing is also done cheaper in-house.

She said doesn’t expect the in-coming Republican leadership to make the same mistakes, and that she hopes her committees continue to act in a bipartisan fashion.

“There’s no Democratic highway and there’s no Republican sewer system,” she said. “We tend to get along.”

While delighted by her own huge landslide in the recent election and thankful to people who voted for her, Johnson said she is saddened by how many of her friends won’t be returning to Congress with her in January.

Although the election coverage was all about the Tea Party candidates, only about a third were actually elected. Though many of the others lost by a small margin, Johnson defeated Stephen Broden, her Tea Party opponent, by more than 50 points. Her landslide was possibly the largest against a Tea Party candidate in the country.

Johnson laughs at coverage of her election that minimized the enormity of her win. She said that by looking at her opponent’s campaign filings, she knew rank-and-file and local Republicans weren’t supporting him. That indicated last-minute money might flow into his coffers from around the country.

But Johnson said she was prepared and ran her usual campaign, taking nothing for granted.

“People in my district know me,” she said.

And in large numbers voted for her for a 10th term in office.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Election 2010 • Novotny loses bid to unseat Kern

Brittney Novotny lost her bid to become a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives in midterm elections Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Out of 8,600 ballots cast, Novotny, who is transgender, received about 35 percent of the vote.

Her opponent, virulently anti-gay Rep. Sally Kern, will return to office for a fourth term.

Kern made national news saying that homosexuality is a worse threat to the country than terrorism.

Oklahoma has term limits, which means Kern can run for the House only two more times.

Novotny would have become the first transgender state legislator in the United States had she been elected.

In addition to running a fairly conservative district, Republicans swept statewide offices. Mary Fallin, the state’s new Republican governor, won her race by 20 points. Four of the state’s five congressmen will also be Republican.

Democratic incumbent Al McAffrey, who is gay and represents part of Oklahoma City in the state House of Representatives, won his race with almost 70 percent of the vote.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Sally (Kern) rides again

You remember Sally Kern, right? She’s the Republican Oklahoma state representative who in 2008 became famous when an audio clip hit the Internet of her telling other Republicans that gays and lesbians are a bigger threat to America than terrorism.

Homosexuality, she warned back then, “is deadly, and it’s spreading, and it will destroy our young people.”

When the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund made her warnings public, Kern became more famous than she had probably ever expected to be. But not famous in the way she wanted, I am sure.

Well, guess what. Sally rides again. There’s more brilliant speechifying from her out on the Internet, this time as part of a campiagn ad for Brittany Novotny, the transgender attorney from Oklahoma City who is running against Kern this year for the District 84 seat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives,

I am posting Novotny’s campaign ad below, but here’s the punch line, an audio clip of Kern speaking on Aug. 7 — a little over  week ago — and explaining her comments from 2008. She says:

“I was talking to a group of Republican activists, telling them about a group of homosexual millionaires who for years have been working secretly to change the society of America, the political society of, America, so there will be freedom and equality for everyone.”

No, Sally! Really?! Freedom and equality for everyone?! Oh, the horror of it all! We are so lucky to have people like Sally Kern out there fighting that terrifying demonic specter of freedom and equality for everyone.

Think I’m making it up? Then just listen for yourself.

—  admin

Open letter to Pelosi

Calling on the Speaker of the House to keep her promise on ENDA

We are writing to express how extremely troubled we are that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has not yet been scheduled for a vote by the full House of Representatives. We believe a floor vote must be scheduled for ENDA immediately.

It would be devastating for LGBT workers for this Congress to not complete its work on ENDA before the end of this session.

ENDA would be historic in the number of LGBT people who would benefit from its passage. During this economic crisis, it is more important than ever to prohibit the often-impoverishing effects of workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Most LGBT workers have no protections from workplace discrimination. ENDA would provide legal protection against discrimination nationally.

Over and over we have been promised that a vote would be scheduled on ENDA, and these promises have been repeatedly broken. In 29 states, it is still legal to fire someone solely because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. And in 38 states it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender.

The current version of the bill would outlaw discrimination on both sexual orientation and gender identity.

A 2006 study by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the Transgender Law Center found that 60 percent of transgender people in San Francisco earn less than $15,300 per year; only 25 percent have a full-time job, and nearly 9 percent have no source of income.

Only 4 percent reported making more than $61,200, which is about the median income in the Bay Area.

More than half of local transgender people live in poverty, and 96 percent earn less than the median income. Forty percent of those surveyed don’t even have a bank account.

What this study reveals is that even in a city that is considered a haven for the LGBT community, transgender workers face profound employment challenges and discrimination.

A 2007 meta-analysis from the Williams Institute of 50 studies of workplace discrimination against LGBT people found consistent evidence of bias in the workplace. The analysis found that up to 68 percent of LGBT people reported experiencing employment discrimination, and up to 17 percent said they had been fired or denied employment.

Public opinion polling shows that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of making sure LGBT Americans get the same employment opportunities as everyone else. In fact, the latest surveys shows that nearly 90 percent of Americans support workplace fairness for LGBT workers.

As you know, in a few weeks, Congress will finish it’s legislative business for the year so that they can return to their districts to run for re-election. Last month at a LGBT Pride event, Congresswoman Jackie Spier announced to the LGBT community that not only would we not get ENDA before the end of the legislative session, that she did not think we would get it for five years because we won’t have enough votes in Congress again to ensure passage.

It is ironic that Congress plans on leaving town and going home to campaign for their own jobs while leaving thousands of LGBT workers without protections for the next five years. When 90 percent of Americans support workplace fairness, it is challenging to believe that anyone fears a backlash from the voters.

The time to pass ENDA is now. The American people support it; the politicians promised it. No more broken promises. We demand that a vote be scheduled now.

FROM: SF Pride at Work, One Struggle, One Fight, GetEqual, Harvey Milk Democratic Club, El/La, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and National Pride at Work.

……………………………..

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

House passes defense bill with DADT repeal attached

Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives  voted, 234 to 194, to approve an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military. (Read our story here.)

This afternoon, the House voted to approve the defense bill in its entirety. The vote was 229 to 186.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted last night to approve the same amendment to their version of the defense bill, but Republicans in the Senate have vowed to keep fighting the amendment when it comes to the Senate floor for a vote. They have said they will filibuster the whole defense bill to try and kill DADT repeal.

Even if the amendment passes in the Senate, too, the policy will not be immediately repealed, thanks to a compromise requiring implementation of the repeal to wait until the Pentagon completes a study on its impact — expected in December. Then the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have to certify that the repeal wouldn’t hurt military readiness.

THEN, when all those hoops are jumped through, there would be a 60-day waiting period before the policy is actually repealed.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, while applauding the compromise that got the positive votes in the House and in the Senate committee, are warning closeted servicemembers not to come out because they can still be fired under DADT.

Read the warning at SLDN.org/StillAtRisk.

—  admin