Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

LGBTs have a choice to vote Republican

The midterm election cycle presents many options for gays and lesbians all across the country: whether to pull the lever for a party that claims to stand for equality while defending “don’t ask, don’t tell” in court, a party which chooses sweeping healthcare mandates over achieving tax equity for domestic partners, and a party which failed to even bring up employment non-discrimination for a vote — or voters can choose a party that stands for lower taxes, a stronger national defense and fiscal policies that will stimulate small business and put Americans back to work.

This is a strange dynamic for many gays and lesbians, as 2008 was supposed to send a “fierce advocate” to the White House, end DADT and rapidly pass legislation ensuring equal protection under the law.

Instead, what voters got was a Democratic National Committee chairman who directed Maine voters to help out with elections in New Jersey, rather than oppose a ballot referendum on marriage equality; a White House senior advisor who labeled being gay as a “lifestyle choice” and an administration that believes DADT is constitutional and worth zealously defending in court.

Considering this sub-par record of Democratic achievement, it is time for gay and lesbian Americans to re-examine why they vote so often for candidates who fail to deliver solutions to the issues challenging their community.

As is the case for so many Americans right now, gays and lesbians should be looking for candidates supporting a legislative agenda focused on creating jobs, lowering taxes, halting runaway government spending and reducing an incomprehensible national debt.

After four years of liberal majorities in Congress, which they have used to vastly increase government’s role in the market and impose new burdens and uncertainty on America’s business owners, expecting Democrats to do an about-face and encourage any kind of economic opportunity is an exercise in futility. Whatever your sexual orientation, this economy hurts us all. It is time for a change.

R. Clarke Cooper is executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. E-mail him at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Right-wing group blasts Texas Sen. John Cornyn for appearing at Log Cabin Republicans dinner

Sen. John Cornyn

A while back we said we hoped Sen. John Cornyn and Congressman Pete Sessions, two anti-gay Texas Republicans, would face backlash from the religious right for pandering at a Log Cabin Republicans dinner later this month. Well, it looks like our wish is already starting to come true!

The right-wing Cambridge Theological Seminary, which claims to have hundreds of member churches in Texas, has posted an open letter to Cornyn saying it plans to oppose him in his next re-election bid and instead support a Tea Party candidate.

“John Cornyn, the junior Senator from Texas has announced that he will attend a fundraiser held by the homosexual same-sex-marriage Log Cabin Republicans, whose mission is to support ‘favored status and special rights for gay and lesbian Americans,'” the group writes. “We urge all Texans to seek his replacement immediately. If he is this bold in public, what is he behind closed doors?”

The group goes on to slam Cornyn for not even having a drop-down menu on his website devoted to “Pro-family and/or anti-same-sex causes.” The group accuses Cornyn of betraying his nation and God by supporting “sodomizing, AIDS-causing homosexuals who molest and rape little boys …”

Politics makes strange bedfellows, folks, and Instant Tea hereby announces an informal alliance with the Cambridge Theological Seminary to defeat Cornyn in 2014, albeit for opposite reasons. (Who knows, maybe they’ll even send us one of the free degrees they offer online.) Below is the e-mail the group says it sent to Cornyn.

—  John Wright

Laser treatment offers alternative to smokers who are trying to quit

Study: LGBTs smoke at more than twice the rate of non-LGBT peers

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor

PAINLESS  |  Xena Sebastian of Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas demonstrates the laser she uses to help smokers kick the habit. She said the laser is a non-invasive and painless alternative to other smoking cessation aids. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

PAINLESS | Xena Sebastian of Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas demonstrates the laser she uses to help smokers kick the habit. She said the laser is a non-invasive and painless alternative to other smoking cessation aids. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

According to a report released in July by the American Lung Association, the smoking rate among gay and lesbian Americans is twice as high as among other Americans.

The report — “Smoking Out A Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community” — says that gay, bisexual and transgender men are two to two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke than straight men. Lesbians, bisexual and transgender women are one-and-a-half to two times more likely to smoke than straight women.

And, the report notes, bisexual boys and girls have the highest smoking rates when compared to both heterosexual and LGT peers.

Why? Well there are a number of reasons, the ALA suggests in its report: “possible contributing factors to the LGBT smoking rate includ[e] stress and discrimination related to homophobia, the tobacco industry’s targeted marketing to LGBT consumers, and lack of access to culturally appropriate tobacco treatment programs.”

And quitting smoking is not easy. Studies have indicated the relapse rate for those who quit to be between 75 and 80 percent, even with aids like gums, patches and pills.

But Xena Sebastian believes she has a solution that is almost sure-fire: laser therapy.

Sebastian, a registered nurse, said she spent most of her professional career working in cardiovascular intensive care units, “but I got a little old for ICU duty, which is pretty intense.”

So she began working doing infusion treatments, and from there learned about laser therapy. She now operates Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas.

Sebastian explained that the laser is a holistic, drug-free method of treatment developed by Anne Penman of Scotland specifically to help smokers become non-smokers. And, Sebastian added, the success rate for laser treatments is “higher than any other kind of [stop smoking aid], including gums and patches and pills. The best part is that it is non-invasive, drug free and pain free.”

Penman is based in Scotland, and according to her website, she used laser therapy to end her 60-cigarette-a-day habit in 1991 after her husband, also a longtime smoker, had a heart attack at age 39. That same year, she trained to become a laser therapist, and quickly developed her own protocol for the treatment. By 1994, she was training others to use her protocol.

Sebastian said that laser therapy works along the same lines as acupuncture, using the laser instead of needles to target energy points throughout the body, causing the release of seratonins and endorphins, “the same chemicals that are released when you workout.”

The laser, Sebastian said, “is a healing light that works on an intracellular and cellular level” to help detox the body, flushing out harmful substances, and to dampen that craving for nictotine.

Laser therapy can also be used for pain management and to reduce stress, and there are other applications, as well, although Sebastian said she does not promote laser therapy for those.

All Anne Penman clinics use the Thor Laser, which has been approved by the FDA for “tissue healing, inflammation, pain relief and wounds,” according to the Thor Laser website.

The smoking cessation packages at Sebastian’s clinic cost $499 for three treatments. She said patients come in for their first treatment and are then asked to return within 48 hours for the second treatment. The third treatment can be used down the line if the patient relapses.

Sebastian said many patients are ready to quit smoking after the first treatment, and almost all of them quit after the second treatment.

The package price also includes a supply of nutritional supplements and vitamins that help the patient detox and reinforce healthy habits.

Sebastian acknowledged that the nearly $500 price tag seems high to many people. She also noted that few insurance plans cover the cost of laser treatment to quit smoking.

But, she said, “If you smoke one pack a day and this treatment helps you quit, then you have paid for the treatment in a month and a half” of not buying cigarettes.

Sebastian said she is not condemning other smoking cessation treatments that use pharmaceuticals. “I am a registered nurse. I certainly believe pharmaceuticals have their place. But if you can [quit smoking] without them, with a holistic and non-invasive treatment, then try that first,” she said.

Anne Penman Laser Therapy of Dallas is the only Anne Penman treatment center in Texas. It is located at 6518 LBJ Freeway. For more information, call 214-503-7955, e-mail, or go online to
For more information about Anne Penman and Anne Penman Laser Therapy, go online to For more information about the laser used in Anne Penman Laser Therapy, go online to

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 10, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas