MISSING: Christine Jordan

Christine JordanFriends said Christine Jordan, 26, known on Facebook as Christine Graham Benson, has been missing since about April 18. She lived with her parents in North Richland Hills and worked in Dallas at CityVet in Uptown.

On about April 18, Jordan had an argument with her parents, left the house and hasn’t been seen since, according to one friend. Anyone with information should call North Richland Hills police at 817-281-1000 or contact Dallas Voice and we’ll pass information to the detective working on the case.

 

—  David Taffet

Couples needed for wedding apparel fashion show

920x920Dallas Voice is looking for LGBT couples to model wedding attire at our upcoming Wedding Party and Expo. The event, the second that Dallas Voice has hosted since the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision last June 26, will be held March 20.

Mark Stinson-Stokes, the Voice’s conference and events director, said he is looking for “a diverse group of couples/models” to “represent the beauty of the DFW LGBT community.” “Couples” are not required to actually be in a relationship to model as a couple in the fashion show. There is no compensation, other than paid parking and the chance to be a wedding fashion model.

Couples will be interviewed Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Dallas Voice offices, 1825 Market Center Blvd., Ste. 240 (that’s in the Chase Bank building at the corner of Market Center and Turtle Creek Boulevard, in the Design District.). No reservations or booking are required.

A small panel of people will participate in the interviews to choose four lesbian couples and four gay couples for the Wedding Party and Expo, set for noon-4 p.m. on March 20 at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.

Those who are chosen to participate as models will be notified within 48 hours.

Anyone with question can contact Stinson by email at expo@dallasvoice.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Judge: Non-bio mom in lesbian divorce is child’s legal parent

Lauren Poole

Lauren Poole

Virginia Beach, Va. Circuit Judge Steven Frucci has ruled in a lesbian divorce case there involving custody of a child that even though she contributed no DNA, the non-biological mom is a legal parent of the child to whom her now-former wife gave birth.

To rule otherwise, Frucci said, would make “every child born in a same-sex marriage a bastard, and I’m not about to do that,” according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Lauren Poole, 29, and Karen Poole, 31, both of Virginia Beach, were married in Maryland in August 2013, before same-sex marriage was legally recognized in Virginia. They used sperm donated by a male friend to impregnate Karen, using the at-home “turkey baster” method. Lauren, Karen and the sperm donor signed an agreement before the baby — a boy — was born that released the sperm donor from any responsibility and named Lauren as the child’s second parent.

The baby was born in July 2014, but six months later — as their relationship began to fail — Laurent moved out of the family’s home. She visited the baby several times a week until she and Karen got into an altercation, after which Karen took out a protective order against Lauren that prevented her from seeing the baby.

Lauren Poole then filed for divorce, leading to the just-settled battle in Frucci’s court.

Wanting children, they enlisted a male friend to act as a sperm donor, impregnating Karen Poole with an at-home artificial insemination technique commonly known as the “turkey baster” method, according to written arguments filed by both sides.

After the pregnancy was confirmed, the three signed an agreement to release the donor from parental responsibility and name Lauren Poole as the child’s second parent.

The baby – a boy – was born in July 2014 at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital.

Six months later, the couple’s marriage was unraveling and Lauren Poole moved out of the family’s home. For the next few months, she visited the baby several times a week until an altercation led Karen Poole to take out a protective order that stopped all contact.

Lauren Poole filed for divorce and a fight for custody began. As the battle over custody continues, Frucci says one question is definitely settled: From here on out, Lauren Pool will be treated as the legal parent of a legitimate child.

—  Tammye Nash

The lesbian video to Adele’s ‘Hello’

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This kind of breaks my heart. Read more about it here.

—  Tammye Nash

HERO opponents air first ad, citing trans bathroom panic

Anti-HERO groups anti trans ad

A campaign image released by opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance reveals the group’s strategy for successful repeal.

Opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance aired their first radio ad yesterday, the first of what they promise to be a barrage of ads ahead of the Nov. 3 ballot referendum that will decide the ordinance’s fate.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Campaign for Houston‘s one-minute ad features a young woman concerned for her safety. She wants to get pregnant, she says, but is afraid because the ordinance “will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.

“That is filthy, that is disgusting and that is unsafe,” she states.

The nondiscrimination ordinance, which passed city council last year and has been mired in legal battles initiated by opponents since, includes protections for LGBT people, as well as other federally protected classes including sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, family, marital or military status. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

Opponents, including conservative Christian leaders, immediately gathered signatures for a ballot referendum. The city ultimately threw the petitions out, but opponents scored a victory earlier this month when the Texas Supreme Court forced the council to either repeal the ordinance or put it before voters on the Nov. 3 ballot.

City council members voted to put it before the voters on 12-5 vote.

Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Houston Unites, which supports the ordinance, blasted the ad in a statement.

“The ad is grossly inaccurate. Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is — and always will be — illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people. The ad leaves out the fact that the law protects tens of thousands of Houstonians from job discrimination based upon their race, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability,” he said.

Houston Unites also plans to also broadcast media in support of the ordinance. But the campaign has not made any media buys yet, he told the Chronicle.

—  James Russell

Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara: The gay interview

UTC_6-2-14_03309.CR2Legally Lesbian? Well, not exactly. To the delight of their queer-lady fans, Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara may kiss up on each other, but it’s all just part of their Hot Pursuit. In the film — set in Texas and out in theaters Friday — Witherspoon portrays Officer Cooper, a by-the-books cop assigned to protect the ultra-fashionable widow of a drug dealer (Vergara) … at one point faking lesbian to escape a potentially sketchy situation.

This isn’t Witherspoon’s first on-screen smooch with another woman, of course. And even though the Oscar-winning actress couldn’t recall her pre-fame woman-on-woman debut during an interview with our own Chris Azzopardi (1996’s Freeway, when she and Brittany Murphy made out … how could we forget?). “I don’t think I’ve kissed another girl on screen,” Reese says, as we’re asked to move onto the next question. With our Summer Movie Issue currently in the racks, we thought it would be a good time to hear what else the budding BFFs had to say about lesbians, Legally Blonde and female liberation during this gay press exclusive.

Dallas Voice: Dealing with homosexuality in comedy can be delicate, and some people take offense to pseudo lesbianism. As actors, how do you know when not to go too far? Is there a “too far”?  Reese Witherspoon: I think gay people are able to play straight roles; straight people are able to play gay roles. The whole point of being an actor is to transform. If people don’t understand that we need to be malleable in our sexuality, then I think they need to lighten up.

Sofia, you’re on a gay-loved TV show. Reese, you famously taught us the “bend-and-snap.” Looking back, when were you both first aware that you had a gay and lesbian following?  Witherspoon: For me, probably Legally Blonde or Cruel Intentions.

Sofia Vergara: I’ve never really thought about it. I’ve always had a lot of gay friends as very close friends. I don’t know! My [Modern Family] character, Gloria … they like her!

Witherspoon: Her attitude. And the way she dresses!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lesbian news briefs: Homophobic principal; homophobic pediatrician; homophobic day care

Louisiana school board president questions principal’s anti-lesbian ruling

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Claudetteia Love

Monroe City School Board President Rodney McFarland said he has called a meeting with School Superintendent Brent Vidrine after Carroll High School Principal Patrick Taylor warned an openly lesbian student she would not be allowed to wear a tux to her prom.

According to the News Star, Carroll High School senior Claudetteia Love was going to boycott her prom after Taylor told her she could not wear a tuxedo to the event.

Love’s mother, Geraldine Jackson, said she Taylor told her that members of the faculty “working the prom told him they weren’t going to work the prom if [girls] were going to wear tuxes. That’s his exact words: ‘Girls wear dresses and boys wear tuxes, and that’s the way it is.”

Taylor reportedly said his decision was based upon the dress code and had nothing to do with Love’s sexuality. But McFarland wasn’t so sure.

“As school board president, I don’t agree with Carroll banning her from her prom just because of what she wants to wear. Tthat’s discrimination,” McFarland said. “As far as I know, there is no Monroe City School Board policy saying what someone has to wear to attend the prom. You can’t just go making up policies.”

Love is an honors student who will attend Jackson State University next year on a full academic scholarship. She said she was upset by the controversy, especially because the school had previously held her up as a shining example to the student body.

Love said she is concerned for girls “in lower grades than me, … I don’t want them to feel like they are less of a person because people don’t accept them.”

 

Pediatrician refuses to treat infant with lesbian parents

Michigan pediatrician Dr. Vesna Roi, despite having initially agreed to treat the infant daughter of Krista and Jami Contreras, backed out at the last minute because the child’s parents are lesbians, according to Inquisitor.com.

The couple said that Roi, a doctor with Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Mich., had been highly recommended by their midwife, and they had met with her before their daughter, Bay, was born. They said Roi didn’t express any doubts or misgivings then, they said.

But when they took their daughter in for her first appointment, another doctor greeted them, telling them that “Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for [your daughter],’”Jami Contreras told The Washington Post. “Dr. Karam told us she didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to see us.”

The two women said they were upset, hurt, embarrassed and humiliated. Jami Contreras said, “As far as we know Bay doesn’t have a sexual orientation yet so I’m not really sure what that matters. We’re not your patient — she’s your patient. And the fact is that your job is to keep babies healthy and you can’t keep a baby healthy that has gay parents?”

The Contreras continued with that first appointment but immediately began searching for another pediatric office, making sure that everyone they subsequently spoke to  knew up front that they were lesbians and would have no problems with that.

Several months after their appointment, Dr. Roi sent the couple a letter explaining, “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients.

“I felt that it was an exciting time for the two of you and I felt that if I came in and shared my decision it would take away much of the excitement. That was my mistake. I should not have made that assumption and I apologize for that.

“We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you. I should have spoken with you directly that day…please know that I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice.”

According to CBS Detroit, there are currently no laws that protect LGBT families from discrimination.

 

Manitoba day care denies service to lesbian couple

Manitoba Attorney General James Allum says he is outraged by allegations a lesbian couple was denied a Winnipeg daycare spot for their baby girl because of their sexual orientation, according to The Canadian Press.

Allum said no one in this day and age should be denied service on that grounds. “That’s simply outrageous. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Agata Durkalec and her partner, Kate Taylor, say they are filing a human rights complaint after they say they were denied a Winnipeg daycare spot for their baby girl because of their sexual orientation.

The couple moved to Winnipeg from Ontario recently and began looking for a daycare for their 10-month-old daughter.

They thought they were in luck when they found an opening at a home daycare, but allege the daycare operator withdrew the offer in writing when she found out they are lesbians.

“My heart goes out to both of you but I know where my families stand on the subject, therefore it would not be a good fit,” the woman allegedly wrote to Durkalec. “I hope everything works out for you and your family.”

The couple, saying they were stunned by the response, picked up papers from the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and will be filing a complaint, Durkalec said.

Although they are no longer interested in putting their daughter in the home daycare, Durkalec said it should be made clear that any discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong.

Allum said the allegations would be best handled by the human rights commission.

—  Tammye Nash

TEXAS MARRIAGE UPDATE: Equality Texas calls on DeBeauvoir to start issuing marriage licenses

Dana DeBeauvoir

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir

A day after a Travis County probate judge issued a ruling striking down Texas’ ban on legal recognition of same-sex marriages, Equality Texas today (Wednesday, Feb. 18) is calling on Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately.

But according to a spokeswoman in DeBeauvoir’s office, the county clerk will not issue those marriage licenses until she gets the go-ahead from the federal courts.

DeBeauvoir had previously said she was ready to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as soon as the courts would allow. After Judge Guy Herman issued his ruling Tuesday, DeBeauvoir said she needed to meet with Herman and county lawyers to “find out if there is anything I can do [in terms of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples]. Right now, I think it’s no, but we are checking.”

Chuck-Smith

Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith

But Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said today that Herman’s ruling makes marriage equality the law in Travis County. “The law in Travis County now allows for marriage equality. Equality Texas calls upon the county clerk to stand with us — on the right side of history,” Smith said.

The written statement issued by Equality Texas also noted: “Just as the Supreme Court may issue a marriage ruling this summer that applies to all 50 states, and just as the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals may issue a marriage ruling any day now that applies to the 5th Circuit, Judge Herman has issued a ruling that has the effect of law in Travis County.”

The spokeswoman in DeBeauvoir’s office, who identified herself as Angela Vallejo, said today that “nothing has changed” since the county clerk’s statement yesterday. “We have to wait for the federal courts” to settle the question, she said. “As soon as they approve it, I am sure we will begin issuing the licenses.”

Getting a license in Travis County

If — or rather, let’s say when — DeBeauvoir’s office begins issuing licenses to same-sex couples, here are a few rules you need to know:

• The Travis County Clerk’s Office is located at 5501 Airport Blvd. in Austin.

• The cost to get a marriage license is $81 if you pay cash, $84 if you pay with a credit card. Checks are not accepted.

• Both parties have to present a valid ID; both parties have to know their Social Security numbers, and both parties must be at least 18 years old. (Those under 18 must have a parent or guardian with them to give permission.)

• Marriage licenses expire 90 days after they are issued.

• Those obtaining marriage licenses have to wait 72 hours to get married, unless they have a waiver from the court.

The status of marriage equality in the courts

Herman’s ruling came as part of an estate fight in which Austin resident Sonemaly Phrasavath is seeking to have her eight-year relationship to Stella Powell designated as a common-law marriage. Powell died last summer of colon cancer, and after her death, her siblings attempted to step in to claim her estate.

According to the Equality Texas statement issued today, Herman’s ruling finds “that the restrictions on marriage in the Texas Family Code and in the Texas Constitution that restrict marriage to the union of a man and a woman and prohibit marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional because the restrictions violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Contrary to [DeBeauvoir’s] position previously stated in the media, this ruling in fact allows her to immediately issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Travis County,” the statement declares.

“Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir previously stated she would be happy to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once the law allows for it.” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said.

Herman’s ruling yesterday came a year, to the month, after U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled in federal court that the Texas same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution. Garcia declined plaintiffs’ request late last year to lift the stay on that order and allow same-sex marriages to begin in Texas. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on that case and two others — one from Louisiana and one from Mississippi — on Jan. 9, and could rule in that case any day. Plaintiffs in the Texas case last week asked the Fifth Circuit to lift the stay allow gay and lesbian couples to begin marrying in Texas right away.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments on four marriage equality cases out of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in April, and to issue a ruling in June. The court is widely expected, as this time, to strike down all same-sex marriage bans in the U.S.

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Supreme Court chief justice pledges to refuse the tyranny of SCOTUS

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore this week issued a declaration pledging to ignore any federal court rulings on marriage equality — including rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court — that he doesn’t like. The statement came after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade (appointed by President George W. Bush, by the way), ruled in favor of marriage equality in two separate cases since last Friday, Jan. 23.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy MooreMoore calls such rulings “tyranny.”

TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com reports that in a letter addressed to Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bently, Moore wrote: “As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. If we are to preserve that ‘reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’ then we must act to oppose such tyranny!”

Moore claimed that the institution of marriage is being destroyed by “federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution.” He also advised the governor that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples “would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama,” and claimed that Alabama is not bound by decisions of federal district or appellate courts.

Sounds like Chief Justice Moore attended the Mike Huckabee School of Law. But the Alabama Republican might want to take a refresher course on exactly how this whole state/federal/constitution/supreme court thing actually works, focusing especially on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

But then, I guess we really can’t expect all that much from Republican Chief Justice Moore. After all, he is the same man who was removed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary from his seat as Alabama’s chief justice in 2003 when he refused to remove a stone monument of the 10 Commandments from the Alabama judicial building. The fine people of the state re-elected him chief justice in 2012, bless their hearts.

Last year, Moore went on a cross-country speaking tour to warn folks that same-sex marriage a devilish plot to destroy to America. Also last year, Moore went to Mississippi to speak to the anti-choice group Pastors For Life where he attacked marriage equality and declared that the First Amendment applies only to Christians. And in 2012, Moore told everybody who would listen during his campaign for chief justice that same-sex marriage is not about equality for lesbians and gays but an evil plan to destroy the God-ordained institution of marriage.

—  Tammye Nash

‘A landmark moment’ for trans Americans, but there’s so far left to go

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President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama made history Tuesday night (Jan. 20), when he actually said the words “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transgender” during the his State of the Union speech. It was the first time those words had ever been uttered in a SOTU address.

President Obama said: “As Americans, we respect human dignity. … That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We do these things not only because they are the right thing to do, but because ultimately they will make us safer.”

It was, I think, an especially sweet moment for the thousands and thousands of transgender Americans. We are making progress toward full equality every day, but still, our trans brothers and sisters are the ones still being left behind. So hearing the president of the United States truly acknowledge them had to be a great moment.

The press releases and written statements I found flooding my email inbox this morning reinforced what I already believed:

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said: “What President Obama said about trans people last night … he actually said it. …. His mention of us [last night] let’s us know that whenever he’s spoken of children, he has meant transgender children too. Or when he’s spoken out about immigrants, he’s meant transgender immigrants too. And when he’s talked about service members and veterans, he meant transgender service members too.”

A statement from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund called the mention “a landmark moment,” adding: “This is a moment of promise for transgender people, who before now, had never been mentioned in a State of the Union address. We are grateful to President Obama for including our entire community in his speech, and for highlighting and condemning the persecution of LGBT people. Through his stirring and heartfelt words, the president has again demonstrated his commitment to creating a world where people are treated equally regardless of who we are or who we love.”

As uplifting and empowering as that moment was, though, my email inbox also provided ample proof that we still have a very long way to go, especially in protecting transgender Americans — their rights, their freedoms and their very lives.

A press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights notes that NCLR and the Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday filed a joint friend of the court brief in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, supporting a former Saks Fifth Avenue employee, Leyth Jamal, who says the company discriminated against her because she is trans.

Saks attorneys have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit because Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender workers.

I also had an email from a group called Care2, “a community of 27 million standing together for good,” taking to task InTouch Weekly for its horrendous cover story speculating on the gender identity of Olympic champion Bruce Jenner.

I saw that cover while standing in the check-out line at the grocery store; it made me sick, and it made me angry. It depicts a heavily altered photo of Jenner to show what he would look like as a woman. I didn’t read the article — although Care2’s statement says it was full of speculation and nothing else. Us Magazine reports Jenner himself is “upset” with the cover and story.

According to the press release, there is a new Care2 petition by Julie Mastrine demanding that “David Perel, editorial director of InTouch Weekly, be more sensitive to the struggles that actual transgender people face and refrain from gossipy speculation about someone’s gender identity.”

Mastrine said: “Publicly speculating as to whether or not someone will be coming out as transgender illustrates a flippant lack of empathy toward people who actually struggle with making a gender transition. It robs Jenner of his right to identify as he wishes.”

BuzzFeed says the magazine likely imposed Jenner’s face over British actress Stephanie Beacham’s body, and even comedian/actor Russell Brand condemned InTouch, calling it “bullying.”

 

—  Tammye Nash