Queer Clip: ‘Our Idiot Brother’

If Jesus came back today, I think he’d be a lot like Ned Rochlin (Paul Rudd) in Our Idiot Brother, stumbling through life while erring on the side of putting too much faith in humanity … kinda like the first time around.

After eight months in prison for a dumb mistake, Ned finds himself with no home and no money. Life with his (s)mother (Shirley Knight) is unbearable so he moves on to his three sisters, wrecking each of their lives in the process.

Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) is a “former bisexual” in a lesbian relationship with a lawyer (Rashida Jones), while Liz (Emily Mortimer) has a sleazy husband (Steve Coogan) and a son and Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is a writer nearing a career breakthrough.

Ned’s experience with his more worldly siblings leads to mixed results. When he’s unable to function in a three-way with a woman and another man, Ned feels guilty about it until a neighbor (Adam Scott) consoles him: “Just because you’re straight doesn’t mean you’re homophobic.”

How the women deal with their brother — the sweetest, most honest guy in the world — makes for pleasant entertainment. It introduces so many good characters it could be a sitcom pilot … if any network could afford that cast.

— Steve Warren

In wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Equality Texas: Austin murders were hate crime

Jose Alfonso Aviles

When a man fatally shot his daughter’s girlfriend and the girlfriend’s mother in Austin on Monday, there’s no doubt it was an anti-gay hate crime, according to Equality Texas.

“Two women have been murdered because one of them was a lesbian,” the statewide LGBT advocacy group said in a statement about the murders today. “Equality Texas can emphatically state that these homicides were a hate crime.”

As we reported Tuesday night, 45-year-old Jose Alfonso Aviles is charged with capital murder for fatally shooting 24-year-old Norma Hurtado and her mother, 57-year-old Maria Hurtado, on Monday night. According to authorities, Aviles committed the murders because he was angry that his daughter was in a lesbian relationship with Norma Hurtado.

Although the incident appears to have been an anti-gay hate crime, Equality Texas says it can’t be prosecuted as one. That’s because under Texas’ hate crimes statute, there is no penalty enhancement available to prosecutors since the charges are already capital felonies. From the group’s statement:

Regardless of how this case is prosecuted, it is imperative that we acknowledge that these murders were a bias-motivated hate crime. It is important to acknowledge that the City of Austin and Travis County, in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League, convened a Hate Crimes Task Force in December, 2010.  Equality Texas is a working member of this Task Force, which seeks to create a forum that fosters open dialogue about hate and discrimination and strengthens the bonds of our community through prevention, response and restoration.

Regardless of how this case is prosecuted, it is important that we acknowledge pending legislation that would seek to address the barriers to prosecution of hate crimes under the Texas James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act. HB 172 by State Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth would require the Texas Attorney General to conduct a study to examine the success of our Hate Crimes Act and identify barriers to the effective use of, and prosecution under, the Act.  HB 172 is pending in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.

Norma Hurtado

Also, the Austin American-Statesman has a follow-up today that provides more details about the murders, including an answer to one of our biggest questions: How old was the suspect’s daughter? According to the Statesman, she had just turned 18. Note that the age of consent in Texas is 17. From the Statesman:

The daughter told police that she and Norma Hurtado had been involved in a lesbian relationship, which her father did not approve of, and that there had been disturbances between Aviles and Norma Hurtado, according to an arrest affidavit. An online records search for those incidents turned up a report of a sexual assault in September and a family disturbance in October; however, police did not release details of the incidents.

The American-Statesman is not identifying the daughter.

The affidavit said a witness told police that the daughter’s parents would send threatening text messages to Norma Hurtado. In one message, Aviles threatened to kill Hurtado and her mother, the document says.

“She stated that (the girlfriend’s) parents have sent text messages threatening Norma because of this relationship,” the witness, a friend of Norma Hurtado’s, told police. About a month ago, the witness “saw a text message from (Aviles) to Norma in which (he) threatened to kill both Norma and her mother,” police said.

Watch the Statesman’s footage of the police press conference about the case below below:

—  John Wright

Police: Austin man killed daughter’s girlfriend, girlfriend’s mother over lesbian relationship

Norma Hurtado

Horribly tragic news tonight out of Austin, where authorities say a man killed his daughter’s girlfriend and the girlfriend’s mother because he was upset that his daughter was in a lesbian relationship. The Austin American-Statesman reports:

Jose Alfonso Aviles, 45, has been charged with capital murder and was arrested early this morning in Bexar County by the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, said Lt. Gena Curtis. Aviles lives in Austin, but was found in San Antonio, police said.

Aviles’ daughter had been dating 24-year-old Norma Hurtado for several months, which was the source of feuding between the Aviles and Hurtado families, Curtis said.

The daughter told police that she was “in a lesbian relationship which her father did not approve of.”

Aviles and another Hispanic man, who has not been identified, went to the Hurtado’s home at the 7100 block of Dixie Drive late Monday and knocked on the door, Curtis said. Moments later, Aviles’ daughter, who was in the home, heard gun shots and found that Hurtado and Hurtado’s mother, 57-year-old Maria Hurtado, had been shot, police said.

Both women died at the scene, police said.

KVUE reports that Aviles’ daughter was in the back of the home when the shootings occurred. She heard the shots, found the bodies and called 911. Police are still trying to locate the second man involved in the killings. Watch the report above.

The San Antonio Express-News has more on Aviles’ arrest:

Officials had been searching for several hours for a Nissan Altima that Aviles was believed to have been driving and found it in a car port in the Bexar County community of St. Hedwig early Tuesday, Hogeland said.

About 30 San Antonio police officers and U.S. Marshals, backed by canines and SAPD’s helicopter Blue Eagle, surrounded Aviles around 3:30 a.m., officials said, and he surrendered.

Police say it will be up to the District Attorney’s Office whether to prosecute the case as a hate crime. Although Travis County has a lesbian district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, we’d say it’s unlikely that will happen. Texas’ hate crimes statute includes “sexual preference.” However, under the statute, there is no penalty enhancement available to prosecutors if the crime is already a capital felony. In other words, the DA’s office would have nothing to gain from prosecuting the case as a hate crime, but it could increase their burden of proof.

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for updates.

—  John Wright