Hold ‘Em High for Hope poker tournament at Axiom

Aces high

Hope for Peace and Justice teams up with Pocket Rockets tonight for their Hold ‘Em High for Hope poker tourney and mixer. With over $400 in prizes, the event benefits the anti-bullying campaign, the Safe Schools Program. Raffles, silent auction, drinks and food make the evening an event. And don’t worry. Non-poker players are just as welcome. Hey, it is a mixer, also.

DEETS: Axiom Sushi Lounge,  4123 Cedar Springs Road. 6:30 p.m. PocketRocketsDallas.com

—  Rich Lopez

Iconic LGBT activist Ray Hill files for Texas House seat

Ray Hill

Ray Hill

Long time Houston LGBT activist Ray Hill filed paperwork this week to run for the 147th Texas House seat against incumbent Garnet Coleman, D – Houston. The iconic (and iconoclastic) Hill said that he and Coleman agree on many issues but that he had “some issues  that aren’t on the table in Austin.”

Specifically Hill has concerns with the legislature’s approach to criminal justice issues. “The Texas legislature is a serial world class red-necking competition,” says Hill. “What they are doing on criminal justice is wrong and it doesn’t work… we need a serious rethink.”

Coleman has a strong history of supporting LGBT legislation. For the last three sessions he has attempted to pass anti-bullying legislation that would require school districts to report instances of bullying using an enumerated list of motivating characteristics that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, he has also filed legislation to remove the the crime of “homosexual conduct” from the Texas penal code (a law that has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), to equalize age of consent laws in Texas and to add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime law. In the 82nd legislature earlier this year Coleman authored seven pieces of legislation designed to create greater equality for LGBT people, including the first ever filing of legislation to standardize change of gender marker procedures for the transgender community and the first effort to repeal the state’s constitutional prohibition against marriage equality.

Hill recognizes Coleman’s historic contributions, “The incumbent and I agree on a lot of issues,” says Hill, “but we don’t tell young gay people ‘if you work real hard and go to school and do your best you can grow up to have straight friends in Austin who like you.’ No, we tell them ‘if you work hard they can grow up to be Mayor of Houston, or City Supervisor of San Francisco.’”

When asked why the community would be better served by him than Coleman, a 20 year legislative veteran, Hill replies “I understand how government works. A freshman legislator can’t do anything more than irritate, but that’s about all any member of the minority party can do. On that level the incumbent and I are on the same level… I think we need somebody obnoxious [in the legislature] who’s going to purposefully rub the cat hair the wrong direction.”

Since being elected to the legislature for the first time in 1992 Coleman has been unopposed in 5 of his 9 primary reelection bids. No primary challenger to Coleman has pulled more than 21% of the vote.

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Dallas gets $1.28M HUD grant for HIV/AIDS

Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have announced the allocation of nearly $9 million in grants to projects in seven states that provide permanent and transitional housing and support services to people with HIV/AIDS.

Of that total, $1,287,500 will be allocated to the city of Dallas’ Housing and Community Services Department, the only city or agency in Texas to receive one of the seven HUD grants. The money will be used to provide transitional housing support to 60 ex-offenders over the next three years. According to the HUD press release, the Housing and Community Services Department will be working with the city’s Project Reconnect and the Department of Justice’s Second Chance Act in providing the housing and services.

And the city has committed to “creating an Integrated HIV/AIDS Housing Plan through a comprehensive community planning effort that involves 20 local partners operating in the eight county Dallas Metropolitan Statistical Area,” according to HUD. No word yet on whether those partners will include AIDS Services of Dallas, which is located in Oak Cliff and provides housing for as many as 225 men, women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS through 125 units in four complexes.

The largest of the grants, $1,375,000, is going to the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV. The city of Portland, Ore., gets the second-largest total with $1,365,900. River Region Human Services Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., is getting $1,353,743, and the Corporation for AIDS Research Education and Services Inc. in Albany and Rochester, N.Y., gets $1,344,375.

Dallas is next on the list, followed by Justice Resource Institute Inc. in Boston, which gets $1,223,377. Rounding out the recipient list is the Frannie Peabody Center, a statewide organization in Maine, that is receiving $930,909.

The seven recipients were chosen “through a national HOPWA competition to identify special projects of national significance that will help advance understanding and improve the delivery of housing and care for persons with HIV,” according to HUD.

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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

Hawaii Senate Confirms Out Lesbian as Supreme Court Justice

Today was an amazing day for equality in the Aloha State.  Not only did the civil unions legislation pass the legislature and head to Gov. Abercrombie for his signature, but openly gay judge Sabrina Shizue McKenna was confirmed as an Associate Justice to the state’s highest court.  She becomes the first openly gay member of the Hawaii Supreme Court and the second out lesbian supreme court justice in the U.S.  The appointment to the position spans 10 years and will give McKenna the opportunity to make her mark on the bench.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the appointment the most important decision in his career, and said the “appointment sets the course for the state and its legal direction for the next several years.  I’m completely confident that Judge McKenna’s appointment will be something I’m proud of for the rest of my life.”  Judiciary Chair Clayton Hee, gave impassioned remarks on the floor of the Senate and his colleagues confirmed McKenna unanimously, including the sole Republican in the chamber, Sam Slom, who also spoke well of the nominee.

I was honored to be in the chamber for both the civil unions vote and Judge McKenna’s confirmation, and to share such a momentous day with my friends and colleagues here in Hawaii.  It’s been a long time on this road to equality, but we’re finally making substantial gains in the state where the marriage battle began nearly two decades ago.

Judge Sabrina McKenna, 53, the senior judge of Oahu’s Family Court at the Kapolei courthouse, was a state judge in circuit and district courts for 17 years.  She is partnered to Denise Yamashiro and has three children between the ages of 8-14.  McKenna, born and raised in Japan, attended the University of Hawaii-Manoa for undergraduate studies and law school.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

The Department Of Justice Wants To Know How Often You’re Manhunting

Big Brother isn't the only one who wants to spy on gays and other otherwise private citizens. Big Brother does too. In a new proposal that would require Internet service providers (ISPs) to track and retain usage information about their customers — from what websites they visit to their assigned IP addresses — the Justice Department claims law enforcement efforts are "stymied by a lack of data retention" and the problem is getting "worse." Which means they want your telecommunications providers not only to keep track of where you're going on the web, but maintain a log of those records should the FBI need them in the years to come. Is this an invasion of privacy on a monumental scale? You bet it is. Such requirements, while raising plenty of First Amendment flags, would mean your Manhunt, Compatible Partners, DaddyHunt, and TransPassions visits are tied to your online profile for…ever? You know, because the federal government is so good at keeping its own confidential communications, uh, confidential.


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Queerty

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Department of Justice Appeals Judge’s Order That Lesbian Nurse Margaret Witt, Discharged Under DADT, Be Reinstated

The Department of Justice late this afternoon appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate lesbian flight nurse Margaret Witt, who was suspended in 2004, and ultimately discharged under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

The WaPo reports: Witt

"U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma ruled in September that Maj. Margaret Witt's dismissal under the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violated her rights. Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. The Justice Department filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, the deadline for doing so. The government is also appealing a ruling from a federal judge in California that found the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional."

The government, however, did not ask the court to stay the decision, suggesting that Witt may serve during the appeal.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement:

“Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional.  This filing in no way diminishes the President’s — and his Administration’s — firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year.  Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.  In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”


Towleroad News #gay

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Calling for Justice on Veterans’ Day at the Ohio State House

In a noontime rally under the soaring stone columns of the Ohio State House in Columbus, a coalition of LGBT groups, including HRC, honored our veterans, and  spoke out for justice for those who are still serving.  Among the crowd were veterans, family members, college students and others—all showing their support for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

One of the speakers, a gay veteran, talked about the challenges of serving in silence.  Among those interviewed by the press that attended was the veteran’s  mother, who spoke passionately, even angrily, about how her son had to live a lie while serving his county.

I was there to move people to action by urging them to contact Senator George Voinovich and nearly everyone at the rally made phone calls to his office immediately after the rally. His vote is key to passing the National Defense Authorization Act and thus repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  If you live in Ohio, please call his office today.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Stop the National Organization for Marriage from assaulting our courts – sign our letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

Cross-posted from NOMExposed.org

Today NOMExposed is launching an effort to fight back against what the National Organization for Marriage did in Iowa.

NOM set its political bulls-eye on ousting three of Iowa’s Supreme Court justices who agreed that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. On Election Day, all three lost.

This was not about Iowa. (Marriage equality remains law in the state.) It was about scaring other judges across the country, including U.S. Supreme Court justices. NOM’s message:  either rule they way we want you to, or we’ll come after you.

NOM’s actions were a heavy-handed assault on our nation’s courts.

Sign our letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts asking him to condemn NOM and to speak out for an independent judiciary free from bitter partisan political campaigns like the one waged in Iowa.

Being virulently anti-LGBT is one thing. Tearing down our justice system is quite another.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Iowa Hatefest: Santorum and Tony Perkins team up to thwart justice and equality. Help stop them.

Yesterday, I posted about the election measure to retain judges in Iowa. Basically, marriage equality is on the ballot, even though it’s not, thanks to the work of the gay haters. Next week, Iowa’s voters will decide whether to retain three State Supreme Court Justices. It’s usually a perfunctory thing. And, the homophobes are trying to hijack and undermine the state’s judiciary — because of the same-sex marriage decision.

NOM is spearheading the effort — and Arisha Michelle Hatch has been tracking them across Iowa. And, you really need to know is that Santorum and Tony “gay kids know they are abnormal” Perkins were campaigning out there with NOM this week. They cannot win.

The Fairness Fund
has an ActBlue page. Donate. Every dollar will help increase their online ad buy. Polling shows that this is very close. So, every vote will matter.

Spare something to stop NOM, Santorum and Tony Perkins.

And, if you live in Iowa, or have friends or family there, make sure they vote YES, YES and YES to retain the Supreme Court Justices.




AMERICAblog Gay

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