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

Top 10: Dallasites helped fuel GetEQUAL

SPEAKING UP | GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup of Dallas uses a megaphone to get his message across outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office last week during a protest of her vote against repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

No. 9:

View all of the Top 10

Dallas activists have played key roles in GetEQUAL, which has quickly become one of the most influential national LGBT direct action organizations since ACT-UP.

According to its website, GetEQUAL’s mission is “to empower the LGBTQ community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way.”

The group was founded on March 11 by Robin McGehee and Kip Williams — organizers of last year’s National Equality March — as an alternative to other groups such as the Human Rights Campaign.

Mark Reed-Walkup, a Dallas business owner who also helped organize the National Equality March, now serves on the board for

GetEQUAL, which gained nonprofit status in June. In May, Reed-Walkup became the third activist from Dallas to be arrested at demonstrations organized by GetEQUAL. He was arrested along with five others for chaining himself to the White House fence in a protest to demand a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”

On March 18, Dallas activists Chastity Kirven and Michael Robinson had been arrested — Robinson in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Washington office and Kirven in Pelosi’s San Francisco office — during protests to demand a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

This same day, Lt. Dan Choi handcuffed himself to the White House fence in his first protest of DADT as part of GetEQUAL’s new direct action campaign. Choi was dischraged from the Army under DADT.

Local members of Get Equal also organized several actions in Dallas.

They held an ENDA rally outside the Dallas office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. They also protested outside ExxonMobil Corp.’s shareholders meeting at the Meyerson in June, and at Oak Lawn-area service stations.

Last week, Get EQUAL Texas held rallies outside Hutchison’s offices across the state to protest her vote against repealing DADT.
Reed said GetEQUAL is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and should  become more active in Texas in 2010.

— From staff reports

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: GetEQUAL Texas calls out Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison for vote against DADT repeal

Transgender woman Chris Tina Foxx Bruce holds a sign conveying the message of today’s rally outside Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office.

About 10 people gathered outside Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Dallas office this afternoon to protest her vote on Saturday against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The protest was organized by GetEQUAL Texas, the state chapter of the national LGBT direct action group, and similar rallies were scheduled today outside Hutchison’s offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.

Wielding signs, bullhorns and a Rainbow-colored American flag, the Dallas protesters chanted “Shame on Kay!” and “Retire, Kay Bailey!” as they stood on a grassy median along the service road outside her 11th floor office in the Hotels.com building at 10440 N. Central Expressway.

Despite Hutchison’s vote against DADT repeal, the bill passed and is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. However, the protesters  didn’t appear to be in a celebratory mood.

“This is just the beginning,” said protester Marlin Bynum, a 47-year-old former preacher who came out as gay five years ago. “We still need ENDA. We’ve still got to repeal DOMA. This is just the beginning. In fact, I don’t know if the fight will ever end.”

Another protester, Chris Tina Foxx Bruce, said she attended the rally because she wanted to make sure the transgender community was represented.

“We have to put on a united front,” she said.

Foxx Bruce added that she’s toying with the idea running for Hutchison’s Senate seat in 2012. Foxx Bruce said Hutchison voted against DADT repeal even though everyone knew it had enough votes to pass.

“She was making a statement, and her statement was, she doesn’t believe in equality,” Foxx Bruce said.

Jade Rea, who traveled to the rally from Fort Worth and said she was representing the bisexual community, acknowledged that Hutchison is unlikely to ever support the LGBT community.

“Probably not, but it’s better for her to see something going on in support than nothing at all,” Rea said. “If you’re not vocal, you’re not heard, you’re not seen, it’s like you’re invisible.”

At the end of the rally, a representative from Hutchison’s office, Byron Campbell, came down to meet the protesters, who handed him two signs on which they’d written personal messages.

“Eighty percent of this country supported the bill,” GetEQUAL board member Mark Reed-Walkup told Campbell as he handed him the signs. “We e-mailed, we called her, she asked for a study, the study came back positive, and then she still voted no. We’re extremely disappointed, and we’ll be back.”

“I appreciate this. Thank you very much, and thank you for your time,” Campbell said before quickly going back inside.

Reed said GetEQUAL, which formed this year, is just beginning to organize chapters in all 50 states and likely will become more active in Texas in 2011.

“We’ll continue to hold our elected leaders accountable,” Reed said.

More photos from the rally after the jump.

—  John Wright

Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t ever forget the anti-gay bigots who voted against repealing DADT

The impending end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t change the fact that Texas’ two anti-gay senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, voted against repealing the policy. The beauty of the standalone bill to repeal DADT, aside from the fact it had enough votes, was that it forced lawmakers to take a position on the policy itself. On Saturday, Cornyn, Hutchison and 29 others went on record as supporting injustice, dishonesty and discrimination.

It’s truly sad that both our senators would vote to harm our national security during a time of war by continuing to discharge valuable servicemembers for no good reason. Indeed, those who voted against DADT repeal will go down in history as being on the wrong side of it, and we should never, ever forget that.

Which is apparently why GetEQUAL Texas is moving forward with plans for protests/celebrations outside Hutchison’s offices around Texas on Tuesday. From Facebook:

GetEQUAL Texas will go forward with their planned protest of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison scheduled for Tuesday, December 22 at noon in front of the Senator’s offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. The group is celebrating Saturday’s repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, but recognizes the importance of highlighting the oppressive vote of Ms. Hutchison on a measure which had the support of over 70% of Americans in several major polls.

Please join GetEQUAL Texas and other community members and allies to celebrate this victory by telling Kay Bailey Hutchison that “Enough is Enough.”

“We will no longer sit by and allow votes like that of Sen. Hutchison on the repeal measure to go unnoticed. Although the repeal measure passed the Senate with a filibuster proof majority, Senator Hutchison attempted to silence those willing to defend the rights and freedoms of the United States with their lives by voting against the repeal. We will not be silenced. The freedom of speech is guaranteed to all Americans, not just those who the Senator prefers.” stated Michael Diviesti an Army veteran and state coordinator for GetEQUAL Texas.

Both Texas Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn voted against repeal, which passed with a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

—  John Wright

Senate votes to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

John Wright  |  Online Editor

In a landmark victory for gay rights, the U.S. Senate gave final approval Saturday afternoon to a bill repealing the military’s 17-year-old ban on open service.

The bill, which passed the House earlier in the week, cleared the Senate by a margin of 65-31. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature before the process of implementing a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” can begin.

This morning, the Senate voted 63-33 to cut off debate on DADT repeal, a defining procedural move that virtually ensured the bill’s passage this afternoon. As expected, Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison both voted against advancing DADT repeal.

Six Republicans joined 45 Democrats and two Independents to provide the 60-vote supermajority needed to cut off debate. The six Republicans were Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Mark Kirk of Illinois and George Voinovich of Ohio. No Democrats voted against advancing the bill, but Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., did not vote.

“This vote represents an historic step forward for this country, and it will very likely be a life-changing moment for gay and lesbian troops,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and a former multi-lingual Army interrogator who was discharged under DADT.

Nicholson added that while implementing DADT repeal will take some time, “those who defend our freedom while living in fear for their careers will finally breathe a sigh of relief tonight, and those who have fallen victim to this policy in years past will finally begin to see true closure and redemption on the horizon.”

Repealing the policy will mean that for the first time in this history of the U.S., gays, lesbians and bisexuals can serve openly in the military. More than 13,500 servicemembers have been discharged under DADT since it became law in 1993.

In the wake of the initial vote this morning, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to immediately suspend all investigations and discharges under DADT.

Under the bill, implementation of DADT repeal won’t begin until 60 days after Obama, Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that eliminating the policy won’t harm the military’s readiness.

“Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law,” said SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. “Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued this statement:

“Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Congress recognized that all men and women have the right to openly serve their country,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Plenty of people had already planned the funeral for this legislation. Today, we pulled out a victory from what was almost certain defeat just a few days ago. We are grateful to President Obama, Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Lieberman, Collins and countless others for their dogged determination to repeal DADT.

“This has been a long fought battle, but this failed and discriminatory law will now be history,” added Solmonese. “Congress now joins the majority of our troops and the American public in the common sense belief that on the battlefield, it does not matter whether a service member is lesbian, gay or straight — what matters is that a service member gets the job done. The President can now fulfill his promise and sign this repeal legislation into law. After signing this legislation, we call on the President and Secretary of Defense to act expeditiously to complete the steps necessary to implement final repeal.”

—  John Wright

Hutchison, against DADT before she was for it, has long history of opposing gays in military

That’s right, the GOP senator from Dallas who says she’ll vote against the standalone bill to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” actually opposed the policy when it was enacted 17 years ago.

That’s because she supported the outright ban on gays in the military — open or not — that was in place before DADT.

In fact, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison sparked controversy when her opposition to DADT was featured in a letter promoting a campaign fundraiser in October 1993, according to Dallas Morning News archives. Hutchison was first elected to the Senate in 1992.

“We are well-aware of the tremendous benefits of the Clinton presidency,” the fundraising letter from the Hutchison campaign said. “We get to enjoy such benefits as socialized medicine, gays in the military (not to mention every other government post available), a weakened defense, and if you are a member of the ‘rich’ or the dead, fantastic retroactive tax increases.”

The letter was roundly critcized by LGBT groups, according to a DMN article dated Oct. 28, 1993:

“If she’s sanctioning that kind of tripe, then there are a lot of Texans that can find a lot of reasons not to support her,” said Paul von Wupperfield of Austin, state president of Log Cabin Republicans of Texas.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean going out and supporting a liberal Democrat. But there are a lot of options, including sitting on your hands,” he said.

Deb Elder, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said Ms. Hutchison’s fund-raisers should be working to recruit supporters, not alienate them.

“It’s really sad that neither the political office nor the people heading up her fund-raising campaign are astute enough or respectful enough of the American public to understand that it’s not wise to say some people are equal and some aren’t,” she said.

As the above flier indicates, a protest is planned outside Hutchison’s Dallas office next week in response to her opposition to DADT repeal.

—  John Wright