Log Cabin condemns Harris Co. GOP official for implying gays are pedophiles

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Log Cabin Republicans is angered at the Texas GOP, and especially the Harris County Republican Party, for the gay-baiting and hateful treatment of a precinct chair applicant.

Christopher Busby, vice president of the Houston chapter of Log Cabin, had an interview in April with the county party for a precinct chair vacancy after his application last summer went missing.

But Busby was asked outlandish questions about gay issues, whether he supports pedophilia and sex education for young schoolchildren because he is a Log Cabin member. He was denied the position, which remains vacant. Harris County Republican Party Vacancy Committee member Terry Lowry was the person who continued to insinuate Busby’s connection to LCR meant he supports pedophilia.

“Since learning about this outrageous incident last week, the Log Cabin Republicans National office has attempted to work in good faith with the Harris County Republican Party, the Texas State Republican Party, and the Republican National Committee on this issue, but our best efforts to secure a simple condemnation of Terry Lowry and his mind-boggling ignorance were met with hand-sitting,” LCR Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement.

“Ultimately the members of the Vacancy Committee and County Chairman Jared Woodfill, who appointed them, have rejected Reagan and the big-tent philosophy which has made our party what it is today. Terry Lowry needs to resign, Christopher Busby needs to be appointed to fill that vacancy, and the Harris County GOP needs to get its act together unless it wants to bear the responsibility for handing Texas to the Democrats on a silver platter in 2014.”

Houston Chronicle blogger and LCR member David Jennings blogged about the incident:

One of the members of the committee that I talked to today said that what happened during that meeting was  ”criminal” and that they would resign because of it. Another member told me that they were “appalled by the treatment of that young man”. Yet another said that it was “gay baiting” and that one person on the committee “implied that the only reason gays want to be a part of the party is to relax laws so that they can molest little boys”. A precinct chair in attendance to observe the meeting said that “they tried to bait the guy into admitting that he was a pedophile.”

Busby later responded to the blog, saying that he was dismayed that his years of dedication to the Republican Party went unnoticed by the committee. He told Dallas Voice he plans to run for precinct chair without the committee’s blessing during an election.

—  Anna Waugh

Texas GOP lawmaker pledges support for gay rights, says party is changing

State Rep. Sarah Davis

State Rep. Sarah Davis

AUSTIN — Log Cabin Republicans from across Texas met in Austin this weekend to share ideas on the Republican Party’s growing support for gay rights and how they could influence lawmakers in the state to back equality.

Members from Dallas, Houston and Austin chapters attended the first-ever statewide conference, as well as a few people from San Antonio, who decided they would try to start a chapter later this year.

State Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston, addressed a group of about 35 people Friday as the keynote in the speaker series.

Davis began her speech by acknowledging the audience’s “courage and the bravery that I think many of you have shown probably spending a great period of your life struggling with your identity and then finally having the courage and the strength of character to come out to your friends and family as a Republican.”

While Davis is not a member of the LGBT community, she said she understands what it is like, recalling when members of the Republican Party looked at her suspiciously when she was the only member of the party to vote against the sonogram bill last session because she believed it was about personal freedom and keeping the government out of the doctor’s office.

Davis said her philosophy is to vote on the basis of personal freedom, individual responsibility and limited government, adding that Republicans allow social issues to cloud their judgment when it comes to those ideals, including placing “what I believe to be inappropriate restrictions on your personal relationships involving two consenting adults.”

—  Anna Waugh

Houston woman claims gay couple duped her into being a surrogate

Cindy Close

A Houston woman has filed a lawsuit after she gave birth to twins in July for a man who now says she served as a surrogate for him and his partner.

Houston businessman Marvin McMurrey III and Cindy Close met in 2005 and were both in their forties.

They’d never been married and never had sexual relations with each other, but wanted children. So, over time they decided to become co-parents, Houston’s Fox 26 reports.

McMurrey fertilized a donor egg through in vitro fertilization and Close carried the child, which turned out to be twins. But after delivering a girl and boy in July, a social worker informed her that she’d been a surrogate for McMurrey and his partner Phong Nguyen.

Close said she has trusted McMurrey since the time they met and was shocked he was gay and using her to have children, when she’d wanted kids so badly.

“I’ve always wanted to be a mom,” Close told Fox 26. “I wanted to raise children. That’s my biggest dream and it always has been.”

Close was prevented from breast feeding in twins in the hospital and is also granted two hours of visitation a day.

She’s filed a civil lawsuit and says she doesn’t have to prove she’s the mother, but that McMurrey must prove that she was a surrogate.

Watch Fox 26’s coverage below.

Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas fundraiser for out lesbian House hopeful Ann Johnson raises almost $3K

Ann Johnson speaks at a fundraiser July 24 at Stoneleigh P in Dallas about changes she wants to make to education and healthcare if elected to represent Houston’s District 134 in the state Legislature. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

A cozy crowd gathered Tuesday to mix and mingle with out lesbian Ann Johnson, the Democratic candidate for Houston’s House District 134, at Stoneleigh P restaurant in Dallas.

New Leaders Texas hosted the fundraiser for Johnson that drew about 40 people. New Leaders Executive Director Kathleen Thompson said the event raised $2,645. Johnson faces one-term incumbent Republican Sarah Davis in November. If Johnson wins, she and El Paso’s Mary Gonzalez would become the first two openly LGBT women in the Texas Legislature.

Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs introduced Johnson, noting their similarities in age,  attending law school in Houston, working with their fathers, and both taking on incumbents, as Griggs did last year.

He said that Texas has Republican 2-1 majority in the state Legislature, but electing Johnson is a step toward changing that imbalance.

“In Texas, we can decide what we want to be and we can go be it,” Griggs said. “This is a moment to start to make that change, to start to make a difference.”

Johnson’s father, Jake Johnson, was a state representative in the 60s and worked on Barbara Jordan’s campaign. Jordan was the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate since 1883 and was the first black female from the South elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Johnson’s mother is former Civil District Judge Carolyn Marks Johnson.

“I am fortunate that both of my parents taught me the honor of public service,” Johnson told the crowd Tuesday. “Houston has this incredible history of making a difference and being diverse.”

While she did not touch on her sexuality, focusing on her two major campaign issues of education and healthcare, Johnson had her partner Sonya at her side Tuesday proudly talking about the campaign trail.

As a cancer survivor, Johnson expressed her desire to back healthcare funding for all Texans, saying affordable healthcare and education are areas where Texas can go from one of the worst states to one of the best.

Texas ranks 43rd in the U.S. for graduation rates, 45th for SAT scores, a fact that Johnson said she’s focusing on changing if elected by providing better funding to public education.

“I have vision to take us from worst to first,” she said. “If we go from worst to first, we can create a public education system that we can be proud of.”

More photos and video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Lesbian TX House candidate Ann Johnson to visit Dallas on Tuesday

Houston attorney and Democratic House candidate Ann Johnson will hold a fundraiser in Dallas on Tuesday while she’s in town for the North Texas Children’s Law Symposium.

Johnson, who focuses on child advocacy cases in her private practice, is among the presenters at the symposium and will lead a discussion on the decriminalization of child-trafficking victims, talking about the minor she represented in the 2010 case, In re. B.W., heard before the Texas Supreme Court.

Johnson is the Democratic candidate in Houston’s House District 134. She will face one-term incumbent Republican Sarah Davis in November.

New Leaders Texas is hosting a fundraiser for Johnson on Tuesday evening. The organization endorsed and funded Mary Gonzalez, but is now shifting its attention to Johnson after Gonzalez won her primary. Gonzalez is unopposed in November.

If Johnson wins, she and Gonzalez will be the first two LGBT women elected to the Texas House — and the only LGBT members of the Legislature.

“New Leaders Texas is dedicated to changing the face of Texas leadership,” said Brian Stansbury, the president of the board of New Leaders Texas. “Electing Ann Johnson will be an important step in achieving that goal. Ann will fight to make Texas a better place for all Texans, and we believe it is important to give Texans from across the state an opportunity to step up and support Ann in this election.”

The fundraiser is Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Stoneleigh P restaurant, 2926 Maple Ave.

People who attend the event will be asked to donate $100 and hosts are expected to donate $250. A suggested minimum donation is $50. Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman is among those listed on the host committee.

While Equality Texas has not endorsed in the race yet, as both Johnson and Davis have expressed interest in working with the organization, Coleman said his support is personal, having met Johnson before.

For more information, email info@newleaderstexas.org or call 512-591-8683.

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Bearweek 2012

Videographer Hector Marcus Juarez continues to focus his camera eye on the fur with his latest vid. Juarez documented the last Texas Bear Round Up into three-plus minute video here. Now, as Bearweek in Provincetown has wrapped up, he has recently posted this video recounting the hirsute event.

And through all the quick edits, you can see he gave local Beardance founder Mark Trimble a couple of flashes of screen time. Otherwise, I’m told by Trimble’s partner and also BD founder Ami Sadeh (who tipped me to the video) that mostly Houstonians made up a big Texas contingent in the just-under-four-minute clip. Makes sense since Juarez is based out of Houston.

I did have a slight chuckle with the song choice. I never would have thought of P-town as “a hopeless place,” but the video ends on the sweetest note.

Watch Bearweek 2012 after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Good luck getting your same-sex union blessed by the Episcopal Church in Dallas

Stanton.James

James Stanton

A resolution in the works for years came to fruition this week when same-sex blessings were approved by the House of Bishops at the Episcopal General Convention.

The blessing is a recognition of the couple’s commitment by the church and blesses their union together, much like a wedding ceremony without the legality. The Episcopal Church became the largest denomination in the U.S. to endorse same-sex unions with the resolution, which passed with a vote of 111-41 with three abstentions and approves the blessings for three years.

However, Dallas’ heavily LGBT Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle won’t likely perform the ceremonies at all. The Rev. Steve Waller, openly gay rector at St. Thomas, told Dallas Voice last month that he had not asked for permission to perform the blessing if it was approved at convention because conservative Dallas Diocese Bishop James Stanton wouldn’t allow them.

Bishops have the authority to approve or ban same-sex blessings in parishes in their diocese as outlined in the resolution.

“We would not be given such permission by our diocese,” Waller said. “I can’t speak for the bishop, but I suspect he will toe the line and not grant permission. Our bishop has been pretty clear that he didn’t want to do that.”

Waller could not be reached Thursday for comment on the resolution’s passage. Stanton didn’t return calls last month or Thursday asking whether he would allow the blessings.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth’s provisional bishop, the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, told Dallas Voice that he would retire soon and would leave it up to the next bishop to decide if the blessing will be allowed.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the passage brought tears to gay couples at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Houston’s heavily gay Montrose area.

“I’ve had people in tears” over the approval, said the Rev. Lisa Hunt. “It’s one thing for us as community to say you’re welcome and then to have rites that you can’t do … now they can really believe that the welcome is true.”

St. Stephen’s and St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin were the first two parishes to be granted permission to perform the blessings by Bishop Andy Doyle of the Diocese of Texas. Hunt said she plans to perform them as early as November.

The convention, which began last week and ends today, also approved new anti-discrimination language for transgender clergy and church members.

—  Anna Waugh

Victory Fund endorses out lesbian Ann Johnson in Texas House race in Houston

The Washington D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund announced 17 endorsements Tuesday including Houston’s Ann Johnson.

Johnson, who is the daughter of former state Rep. Jake Johnson, ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary in House District 134. She will face against one-term Republican incumbent Sarah Davis in November.

Johnson is a former prosecutor who handles child advocacy cases in a private practice, representing victims of bullying and harassment in public schools.

If Johnson wins in November, she will be the second lesbian voters send to the state House after Mary Gonzalez’s election in the Democratic Primary in May. Gonzalez doesn’t have Republican opponent in the general election.

Victory Fund spokesman Denis Dison said having two openly LGBT legislators join the Texas House would intensify the impact and change in dialogue among the conservative-controlled House.

“Ann’s deep experience as an assistant district attorney and legal advocate for kids makes her well-suited to serve in the Texas House,” he told Instant Tea. “She is carrying on her family’s impressive legacy of public service, and we are proud to support her campaign.”

Look for more about Gonzalez and Johnson in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  Anna Waugh

Anti-gay email linked to campaign of candidate for Harris County Democratic Party chair

The above screen grab shows the yellow information window that pops up when you 'mouse over' a link at the bottom of an anti-gay email sent by 'Ministers for Keryl Douglas.' Based on this 'metadata,' the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleges the email was in fact sent by Douglas' campaign itself.

On Monday we told you about a letter purportedly written by a Houston minister attacking Lane Lewis, an openly gay candidate for chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. The Rev. Willie J.Howard, writing on behalf of a group called “Ministers for Keryl Douglas” (Douglas is Lewis’ opponent in the primary), suggested in the letter that if “homosexuals” are allowed to “take over,” it could destroy the Democratic Party.

In a press release sent out last night in response to Howard’s letter, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleged that a digital analysis shows the email containing Howard’s letter was in fact sent by Douglas’ campaign itself, and not by “Ministers for Keryl Douglas.”

We contacted Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Caucus, to find out how the Caucus determined this. Freeman explained that electronic data, called “metadata,” is attached to every email. When you use an email client — such as iContact or Constant Contact, but in this case “MailChimp” — it attaches its own specific data.

“We examined the metadata on that email that was sent out and compared it to an official email from the Keryl Douglas campaign,” Freeman said. “They were identical. The metadata that was attached was identical, and it says Keryl Douglas campaign.”

Freeman directed us to “mouse over” a link at the bottom of the copy of Howard’s email that was forwarded to us. We confirmed that when you mouse over a link that says “Add us to your address book” at the bottom of the email, what pops up is a web address associated with Douglas’ campaign website. (See screen grab above.)

“You’d be amazed at how stupid people can be about this stuff,” Freeman said.

We left phone and email messages with Douglas’ campaign, which reportedly is denying any involvement. Thus far, no response.

Freeman added that Dallas Voice is the only media outlet that’s covered the anti-gay email. “Probably because it’s the primary,” he said. “It’s a race for the party chair, it’s not for state representative. That’s the only thing I can figure. I would guess that a lot of outlets probably see it as an internal dispute.”

Despite the lack of media attention, Democrats in Harris County have taken notice. Freeman said the email has led to an influx of support and financial contributions for Lewis, and garnered the attention of “well-respected, well-entrenched leaders and public figures in the Democratic Party with loud voices.”

“The party faithful have come out in force against this,” Freeman said. “I think it will significantly diminish the support that Ms. Douglas has in the community, and by community I mean the Democratic community.”

Read the Caucus’ full press release below.

—  John Wright

TX minister: Gays will destroy Democratic Party

Lane Lewis

Denis Dison at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund alerts us to this letter from a Houston minister attacking Lane Lewis, the openly gay former president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus who’s running for Harris County Democratic Party chair. Lewis has been serving as interim party chair since December, and last we checked, Houston hadn’t fallen into the Gulf of Mexico. The author of the letter, the Rev. Willie J.Howard, said he’s organizing ministers in support of Keryl Douglas, who’s running against Lewis. Here’s an excerpt from Howard’s letter:

I am writing to you because Keryl is in a close race. Her opponent is openly Gay and has already told supporters behind closed doors that the Democratic Party will endorse a Gay Marriage agenda in November. Friends, this is not the direction we need to go as a community or Party. If the gays take over we are poised to lose everything we have worked for during President Obamas historic win. The Republicans will rally their troops behind a united front of making sure this push for same sex marriage is defeated.

Keryl’s opponent is being supported heavily by Annise Parker, another openly gay politician. If you haven’t seen what has happened at the City of Houston here are the facts:

• More Gays and Lesbians serve in leadership roles on boards and commissions.
• The City of Houston got rid of Blue Cross Blue Shield because CIGNA supports Same Sex benefits.
• The Mayor openly advocated the support of Gay marriage and even tried to embarrass President Barack Obama because he believes marriage is between one man and one woman.

Please share this with your friends and loved ones. This race is the most important down ballot race we will vote for. If we don’t Vote they will continue their take over and pretty soon, the party that we once knew will be a party of homosexuals. Our directives shouldn’t come from San Francisco, but from Harris County voters. How will Democrats look electing a man who sales perfume for a living and lays up with another man? Why are our so called community leaders (Rev. Lawson, Howard Jefferson etc.) supporting this agenda? Are they supportive of this lifestyle too??

View Howard’s full letter after the jump. To learn more about Lewis or to support his campaign, visit his website.

—  John Wright