Sen. Hutchison’s alternative anti-gay VAWA fails as U.S. Senate passes LGBT-inclusive bill

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

The Violence Against Women Act passed the U.S. Senate Thursday in a 68-31 vote but marked the first time since its passage in 1994 that the renewal brought opposition.

This renewal featured the expansion of VAWA’s protections to LGBT victims of domestic abuse, as well as extending the amount of temporary visas for illegal immigrants of abuse and allowing tribal courts to handle cases of abuse against Native American women on reservations by non-Indian suspects.

Anti-gay Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were working an alternative version that lowered the amount of temporary visas and removed the LGBT provisions.

Although Hutchison and 14 other Republicans voted for the LGBT-inclusive VAWA after the Senate rejected the alternative bill, she reportedly said that she “worked with many of my colleagues to have a substitute that has the same coverage but is better in other ways.”

The bill reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act for five years and lowers the funding by $136.5 million to $659.3 million a year from the last act. The money funds programs such as legal assistance for victims and transitional housing.

House Republicans are also working on an alternate bill, which is supposed to mirror Hutchison’s by leaving out LGBT victims of domestic abuse. The House is expected to vote on the bill in May.

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement Friday about the anti-LGBT version of the bill that was introduced.

“The House Republican leadership’s version of VAWA reflects their political objectives, but not the needs of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said. “We can’t afford to turn a blind eye to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. LGBT victims of domestic violence face a number of challenges when it comes to receiving care. The Senate version of VAWA ensures no one ever will be turned away from critical services simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; the House version leaves LGBT people out in the cold.

“Despite rhetorical claims that the Senate bill was political and partisan, the fact of the matter is that 15 Republican Senators voted for the bill and 63 Senators rejected an amendment similar to the House Republican bill,” Solmonese said. “The Senate bill is bipartisan and is the VAWA that is supported by law enforcement, court, prosecution, legal services, and victim services professionals.”

—  Anna Waugh

Public Policy Polling: Perry particularly unpopular

Gov. Rick Perry in a parody of his "Brokeback" video

If a Public Policy Polling poll is correct, Rick Perry may be in his last term in office.

According to PPP, only 29 percent of Texas voters think Perry should run for governor again in 2014 and fewer still — just 19 percent — think he should run for president again.

The ever-resilient governor could still win another term in Austin, however. Of Republicans polled, 49 percent would like to see the governor run again.

With his campaign only suspended, Perry is still technically running for president and will appear on the Texas primary ballot. His campaign was marked by gaffes and insults and his “Brokeback” YouTube video remains one of the most “unliked” on the site.

The poll found that Texans think LBJ was the best of the Texas presidents with 39 percent. George W. Bush is next at 22 percent and his father gets 19 percent. That adds up to only 80 percent. Possibly the other 20 percent polled couldn’t stomach any of them.

Although George H.W. Bush was the least great Texas president, he has the highest favorability rating at 54 percent. People like him — out of office.

Kay Bailey Hutchison had an approval rating of 50 percent. Interesting she did so miserably in the race against the governor. Guess he wasn’t so unpopular before he ran for president.

—  David Taffet

Hubbard: ‘If you don’t want more Mayor Rawlings, then you need to support a candidate like me’

Democratic Senate candidate Sean Hubbard speaks at a Jan. 27 rally outside Dallas City Hall calling for Mayor Mike Rawlings to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Sean Hubbard, one of four Democrats vying for the nomination to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison in the U.S. Senate, said he’s picked up strong support for his campaign in Bexar County while traveling across the state. We caught up by phone late last week while Hubbard was at home in Dallas between campaign trips.

Former State Rep. Paul Sadler is the best known of the Democratic Senate candidates. Daniel Boone, a retired Air Force colonel, is campaigning little but expects to pick up a number of votes because of his name. In 2000, Gene Kelly got the Democratic nomination because of his famous name, but was trounced in the general election. A fourth candidate is Addie Dainell Allen.

Jason Gibson withdrew from the race on Feb. 3 and endorsed Sadler. Gibson said he’s a strong union supporter and didn’t want to run without AFL-CIO support. Hubbard said that Gibson’s arrest record had become public, forcing him from the race. Previously, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez withdrew from the race.

Hubbard rushed back to Dallas on Jan. 27, missing an endorsement meeting to attend the demonstration in front of Dallas City Hall calling on Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ to sign a pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

“Standing up for folks being discriminated against is more important than campaigning,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Senate confirms gay U.S. attorney for W. Texas

The U.S. Senate confirmed Robert Lee Pitman (right), an openly gay man, as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas on Monday.

Pitman is believed to be the first openly gay U.S. attorney in Texas, but he is not the first in the nation. Nominated by President Barack Obama, Pitman will serve as chief federal prosecutor for a 68-county region.

Interestingly, Pitman’s nomination was supported by anti-gay Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Pitman is a Fort Worth native and graduate of Trinity Valley School. Read a detailed profile here.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: NY marriage lottery results; DADT repeal certification; Kay Bailey Hutchison

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. All 823 couples who played the New York City marriage lottery have won! The lottery initially guaranteed only 764 slots on Sunday — the first day same-sex marriage will be legal in the Empire State. But NYC officials now say they’ll accommodate all couples who entered, although 74 who signed up to wed in Manhattan will have to travel to another borough. For more on the start of same-sex marriage in New York, check out Yonkers native David Taffet’s round-up from Thursday.

2. After 18 long years and some 15,000 discharges, the Pentagon and President Barack Obama are set to put the final nail in the coffin of “don’t ask, don’t tell” today. Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to certify the repeal of DADT when they meet in the Oval Office this afternoon, which would begin a 60-day waiting period before the policy officially — and finally — comes to an end. According to our calendar, that means the big day will be Sept. 20, which happens to be just two days after Dallas Pride. Is it too late to change this year’s theme?

3. If not, perhaps they can just turn Pride into a retirement party for Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who told MSNBC this morning that she objects to the Pentagon’s decision to certify DADT repeal. “I really don’t think we should be putting people who are in harm’s way, in very close quarters, in any kind of uncomfortable position,” Hutchison said. “I think it is not the right decision, but it’s a decision that’s been made.” Watch video from ThinkProgress below:

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gov. Rick Perry tries to distance himself from wingnut day of prayer partners

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Texas Gov. Rick Perry — perhaps fearing they could hurt him in the presidential election — appears to be trying to distance himself from the extreme views of groups and individuals with whom he’s partnering with for The Response, his day of prayer and fasting on Aug. 6 in Houston. “I’m sure that through my elections in the past that there have been some groups that have endorsed me publicly, that I appreciate their endorsements, but their endorsements of me doesn’t mean I endorse what they believe in or what they say,” Perry said Monday, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I appreciate anyone that’s going to endorse me, whether it’s on The Response or whether it’s on a potential run for the presidency of the United States. Just because you endorse me doesn’t mean I endorse everything that you say or do.” Sorry, governor, but nice try. Being endorsed by someone in a political race is a little different from partnering with them and selecting them to foot the bill for an event like this.

2. The U.S. Senate for the first time ever on Monday confirmed an openly gay man to serve as a federal district judge, The Washington Blade reports. J. Paul Oetken, nominated by President Barack Obama in January, was confirmed to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by a vote of 80-13 (Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison was among those who voted against Oetken’s confirmation). Oetken is not the first openly LGBT person to be confirmed as a federal district judge, as this distinction belongs to U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts, an out lesbian appointed by President Bill Clinton. And of course he’s not the first non-openly gay man, as we’ve had Judge Vaughn Walker and undoubtedly others. But Oetken’s confirmation is still a pretty big deal: “It wasn’t even two decades ago that openly LGBT people had a hard time even being considered for a presidential appointment, and some who got nominated faced fierce opposition in the Senate,” said Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. “Today, more than 200 LGBT Americans have been appointed by President Obama, and more than 25 of those were nominated for Senate-confirmable positions.”

3. Towleroad has posted bios of those scheduled to testify during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing Wednesay on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. The lack of diversity among witnesses has drawn criticism from the likes of Lt. Dan Choi and prompted an online petition calling for the Human Rights Campaign to “Wake up from white privilege and diversify!” But The Washington Blade reports that witnesses were actually selected by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in consultation with outside groups, and Immigration Equality, a group focused on DOMA-related immigration issues, isn’t concerned about the absence of binational same-sex couples from the witness list.

—  John Wright

GOP Senate candidate Tom Leppert tries to distance himself from fag-loving past in Dallas

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert just announced his resignation today (effective Friday), and he hasn’t even formally announced that he’s running for U.S. Senate in 2012. But Leppert has already started pandering to social conservatives as he prepares to seek the Republcian nomination for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat.

As you can see above, Leppert sent out an anti-gay tweet today in response to the Obama administration’s announcement that it will no longer defend a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court.

“Another mistake from Obama on DOMA,” Leppert tweeted. “We need leaders in Washington to stand for the principle of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Clearly, Leppert is anxious to distance himself from his record in Dallas, where he hired an openly gay chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh, and appeared in two gay Pride parades. Being a big old fag-lover could seriously hurt Leppert in a statewide Republican primary, so he’ll have to work hard to prove how much of a bigot he is.

Leppert’s tweet is utterly disgusting, but it isn’t at all surprising.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert to announce resignation today

Mayor Tom Leppert appears in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2007.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is expected to announce his resignation at the close of today’s City Council meeting.

Leppert’s resignation has long been expected as he prepares to seek the Republican nomination for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s U.S. Senate seat in 2012. It’s really just been a question of when, and now we know: Leppert will step down four months short of the end of his term.

For a Republican in Texas, Leppert has been a relatively good mayor for the LGBT community. After defeating openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley to become mayor in 2007, Leppert reached out and appeared to understand the LGBT community’s importance in Dallas.

Leppert hired an openly gay chief of staff, former WFAA reporter Chris Heinbaugh, and became only the second mayor to appear at gay Pride, doing so in two of his four years in office. Leppert made a habit of showing up at GLBT Chamber events and also attended two of four Black Tie Dinners.

But in the latter part of his term Leppert clearly veered to the right in an effort to position himself for the Republican Senate primary — including joining the virulently anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas.

So, it’ll be interesting to see how Leppert treats LGBT issues in his Senate campaign. Being a moderate Republican won’t win him many votes in a statewide Republican primary, but at the same time it will be difficult to hide from his record in Dallas.

Leppert’s resignation means that Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway will temporarily become mayor until after the May elections. Although Caraway is a Democrat, he hasn’t been much of an advocate for the LGBT community.

—  John Wright

The Nooner: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to retire; trans woman found stabbed to death in Minn.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Your lunchtime quickie from Instant Tea:

• Anti-gay Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announces she won’t seek re-election in 2012. (via multiple sources on Twitter)

• Trans woman found stabbed to death in Minneapolis’ first murder of 2011.

• Yoga studio apologizes for calling snow closings “gay.”

• School board chair in Canada apologizes for c0mparing Gay Straight Alliance to Nazis.

• Manager of coffee house run by anti-gay preacher is a convicted child molester.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Chris Tina Foxx Bruce on discrimination

Chris Tina Foxx Bruce, a transgender personal fitness trainer who’s become something of a celebrity since being profiled by Dallas Voice a few months ago, talks about some discrimination she suffered recently at the hands of a Dallas gym owner.

In her latest video blog posted on Saturday, Foxx Bruce explains that she was interested in contracting with the owner to use his gyms, which are convenient to many of her clients.

“When I walked in, you would have thought I had beaten his child,” she says. “I’m used to the looks. I just would have thought in north or downtown Dallas, it wouldn’t have been such a shock, but he didn’t even allow the time to really discuss credentials, resume. It was just pretty much that he didn’t think I was a good fit.”

Foxx Bruce also confirms in the video blog that she plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012. And she encourages people to vote for her as DFW’s Ultimate Diva.

—  John Wright