Houston lesbian couple killed over weekend in Galveston County

Crystal Jackson and Britney Cosby

Crystal Jackson and Britney Cosby

Questions still remain after a lesbian couple was found near a store dumpster in Port Bolivar in Galveston County early Friday.

Crystal Jackson and her girlfriend, Britney Cosby, both 24, were found killed near a convenience store dumpster off State Highway 87 when a beer salesman noticed their bodies. The cause of the death hasn’t been determined.

Police released a sketch overnight of the man who was last seen with the women. He’s described as a black male with an average build, standing between 5 feet, 11 inches and 7 feet tall. He’s in his late 20s or early 30s.

Family members told Houston’s KTRK that Jackson was a mother to a 5-year-old girl. The couple had been together for two years.

The women were in Galveston last week for Mardi Gras and the two were last in contact with family on Wednesday. Police believe it’s possible the women were killed somewhere else before their bodies were moved.

Investigators are looking for Cosby’s missing vehicle, a silver 2006 Kia Sorrento with paper tags.

Anyone with information about the case should call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477 or Galveston County Crime Stoppers 409-763-8477.

Houstonsketch

A sketch of the man who police believe was the last person to be seen with the women.

Watch KTRK’s report below.

—  Dallasvoice

Gay matchmaking service He’s For Me opens Dallas office

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From left, He’s For Me Dallas manager Dana Foley-Taylor, owner Tammy Shaklee and North Texas GLBT Chamber’s Tony Vedda and Ron Watterson help cut the ribbon at the office’s opening Friday. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Dallas gays now have no excuse to be single — at least not for long.

Gay matchmaking service He’s for Me opened its Dallas office on Friday to celebrate Valentine’s Day and introduce the full-time staff to the community. Staff members were joined by members of the GLBT North Texas Chamber of Commerce, of which H4M is a member.

The company started in Austin in the fall of 2012. Within six months, matchmakers were setting up Dallas and Houston couples, owner Tammy Shaklee said.  The popularity made a full-time office in Big D necessary, and she plans to open a Houston location next.

Shaklee said it’s easy to meet people, but it’s hard to know if they’re single, looking for a serious relationship and if you’re compatible with them.

And she met her husband through a dating service in Austin seven years ago.

“I would have never met him without the matchmaking service,” she said.

She then tried to convince a gay friend to use a service to find love. Only he couldn’t find a service that paired gays.

“I started the research, and after three days of trying to find service for him, I found that none existed,” she said. “When I couldn’t find a service for him to hire to help him, I started the process to start it myself.”

H4M also serves gays in Seattle, after a Houston client relocated and wanted Shaklee’s company to help him there. The company now serves gays in Denver, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta.

While Shaklee, a straight ally, saw the need for gays to have a service, she said she’s researching expanding the company for lesbians with a She’s For Me component.

“I really do believe in my heart that it took a straight ally to give the community something that it hadn’t had the opportunity to have before,” she said.

H4M Dallas office is located at at 2911 Turtle Creek Blvd., 3rd Floor. For more info about HFM, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Denton County Stonewall endorses out candidates for state House

Daniel Moran

Daniel Moran

Stonewall Democrats of Denton County voted at a meeting in Lewisville Wednesday night to endorse out state House candidates Daniel Moran and Emy Lyons. The group’s entire endorsed slate for the March 4 Democratic Primary is below.

U.S. Congressional District 24 – Patrick McGehearty

TX State Representative District 63- Daniel Moran

TX State Representative District 64- Emy Lyons

TX State Representative District 65- Alex Mendoza

TX State Representative District 106- Lisa Osterholt

District Judge 367th Court- David Heiman

U.S. Senate- Maxey Scherr

Governor- Wendy Davis

Lieutenant Governor- Leticia Van de Putte

Attorney General- Sam Houston

Comptroller- Mike Collier

Land Commissioner- John Cook

Agriculture Commissioner- Hugh Fitzsimons

Railroad Commissioner- Steve Brown

TX Supreme Court Place 7- Gina Benavides

—  Dallasvoice

King unable to attend Sochi opening ceremony, Cahow to replace her

Cahow

Caitlin Cahow

Billie Jean King announced Wednesday she would not be going to Sochi for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday because her mother is ill.

Instead, Caitlin Cahow, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist in women’s ice hockey, will replace her.

Cahow was supposed to be part of the closing ceremony but now will not participate in that. No replacement has been named yet.

Cahow and King are both lesbian and were named to the Olympic delegation by President Barack Obama to make a statement about Russia’s new anti-gay law.

Cahow will be joined by Brian Boitano, an Olympic gold medalist in figure skating. Boitano came out recently after he was named to the opening ceremony delegation.

Janet A. Napolitano, president of the University of California and former Secretary of Homeland Security, will lead the delegation. Michael A. McFaul, U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, and Robert L. Nabors, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy, round out the delegation. On Tuesday, McFaul announced his resignation as ambassador effective the end of the month.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: Creating Change 2014 in Houston

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

 HOUSTON — Thousands of LGBT advocates departed from Houston Sunday as the 26th annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change came to a close.

The annual five-day conference set records for the amount of attendees and workshops in its first year in Houston. And the inspiration of the weekend was all around during the conference, from Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s welcome to trans actress Laverne Cox’s keynote speech and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey’s State of the Movement address. (If you missed any of the speeches, you can watch them here.)

And, like any celebration in the LGBT community, it ended with a bang as bisexual singer Nona Hendryx rocked out on stage on Sunday after brunch.

More photos below.

—  Dallasvoice

Annise Parker touches on importance of elections, unity at Creating Change

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the crowd at the national Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker was cheered to the stage by thousands of people when she was introduced Thursday evening as Mrs. Annise Parker at The National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.

Parker married her longtime partner earlier this month in California. She welcomed the applause during her welcome address at the conference, now in its 26th year, which is in Houston for the first time.

“You’re acting as if you’ve never seen a lesbian before,” Parker said. “And, yes, this what a lesbian mayor looks like.”

While conference organizers had hoped to hold the event in Houston when Parker was mayor — she’s now in her third and final term — Parker said she wanted to be a part of the experience that happens when thousands of LGBT activists and advocates converge for the national gathering.

“It was important for me to be here tonight because one, you’re my family,” she said. “Two, it is important for the rest of the United States and the rest of the state of Texas to experience what we do here at Creating Change, and I wanted to be a part of that.

“And I get to home to my new wife,” she added.

Parker, who said she lit up City Hall in rainbow colors for the conference, touched on her citywide elections and how LGBT people can create change by electing the right people to any office.

“I’m here to tell you elections matter,” she said. “And when you put someone in the state house or in the city council chamber or in the mayor’s office, you can make a difference in the lives of people that you will never meet and never see, but you know that you are transforming people’s lives. And those mayors might do something like penning the most comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance in the United States as their third executive act.”

Parker has said this term she plans to have the council pass a nondiscrimination ordinance similar to those in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

She also said people could elect a mayor who supports marriage equality. Parker is a co-chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and she encouraged attendees to go by Freedom to Marry’s booth and email their mayors to support marriage equality.

And with such a diverse representation of the LGBT community, Parker ended by encouraging the community’s strength to focus on common goals instead of divisive factors.

“The most important thing that we can do here today, this evening and at this conference, is to look around at who’s here with us, look at the strength we have as a community, recognize that the differences that divide us are so much less than the things that unite us,” she said. “Our strength is powerful.”

—  Dallasvoice

HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

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The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Since filing for governor, Davis has publicly applauded San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Davis supported a similar ordinance in 2000 when she served on the Fort Worth City Council. But her campaign has since been silent on LGBT issues. Davis was a surprise speaker at HRC’s Black Tie Dinner in November, and she’ll be attending a Dallas LGBT fundraiser at a lesbian couple’s home this Friday, which is closed to media. Despite showing up at fundraisers and events where she appeals to LGBT voters, her campaign has refused several requests for an interview with Dallas Voice for the reason that she is too busy.

—  Dallasvoice

Villarreal drops lawsuit against lesbian constable candidate

Susan.Craig

Susan Lopez-Craig

Precinct 5 Constable candidate Susan Lopez-Craig will appear on the Democrat Primary ballot with her last name intact after Constable Beth Villarreal dropped the lawsuit Friday morning.

Villarreal filed the lawsuit Dec. 26, challenging that Lopez-Craig was not her opponent’s legal last night. Lopez is the name on her birth certificate, but her last name was changed to Craig when she was adopted as an adult.

Larry Freidman, the attorney representing Lopez-Craig, said Villarreal dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice Friday, so she can’t bring the case against Lopez-Craig again.

Friedman said after the daylong hearing about a temporary injunction Thursday on whether to prevent the ballots from being printed on Monday, Villarreal was likely unhappy about the information he revealed in court and gave in. He said her legal last name is Esquivel, so going by Beth Villarreal on the ballot was the same as Lopez-Craig using that name.

“She had a bad day in court yesterday and I think she didn’t want to testify again today,” Friedman said.

He said Lopez-Craig is pleased with the decision, adding that Villarreal likely brought the suit because she was unhappy his client drew the first place on the ballot.

“I think this was an attempt to knock Susan off the ballot,” Friedman said. “And it didn’t work.”

—  Dallasvoice

Texas National Guard refuses to give lesbian couple federal housing benefit

 

a7ac9e2460c84a74f94d9e0cdd5c9ce3While the Texas National Guard has been refusing to comply with federal regulations regarding registering same-sex spouses for benefits, a lesbian couple has now been denied a housing allowance.

Texas began refusing to register same-sex spouses on bases several months ago, referring them to federal bases.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced earlier this month that he would direct all state units to register same-sex souses. But several states, including Texas, have continued to refuse to register them.

Now an Austin couple has been denied a housing allowance granted to married opposite-sex couples because the Guard is refusing to recognize the marriage for state or federal purposes.

Cassaundra StJohn, the member’s spouse, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The service member does not want to be identified because of her rank.

Chris Rowzee, spokeswoman for American Military Partner Association, a group that supports LGBT military members and their families, said the couple recently married in New Mexico and while there registered at a federal military base in Albuquerque. But then the service member returned to Texas and applied for the housing allowance “with a dependent rate.”  The benefit is a federal one that married military members are legally entitled to.

—  Dallasvoice

UTSA decides to give military wife in-state tuition without changing policy

UTSA

Officials at the University of Texas at San Antonio have decided to offer the wife of an Air Force captain in-state tuition after previously denying her the rate.

Officials wouldn’t discuss the reasoning behind their original decision last week, only saying they were looking into it. While the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, the federal government does, and Lambda Legal said public universities that receive federal funding were required to offer military members and their families in-state tuition.

UTSA spokesman Joe Izbrand emailed Dallas Voice late last week to explain the spouse would be given in-state tuition.

“After carefully reviewing this matter, it has been determined that the student will be charged resident tuition,” he wrote in an email. “Our university is enriched through inclusiveness and diversity. We honor the service of our military personnel and recognize the sacrifices made by their families.

“Because of the complexities involved and the potential conflict between the federal statute and state law, the university will seek additional legal guidance on this issue.”

The spouse told Dallas Voice that while the policy hasn’t changed, she was informed on Friday that she would be given a $1,000 scholarship. Since students who are offered scholarships of at least $1,000 are given in-state tuition, she will now receive in-state tuition.

She said while she’s glad the issue was resolved, she hopes the policy is changed to be inclusive, so other same-sex military spouses can receive in-state tuition and she won’t worry about not receiving the rate next year if she doesn’t receive a scholarship.

“I’m bothered about it personally,” she said of the situation. “I’m bothered because it hasn’t changed the problem in the future or for next year.”

—  Dallasvoice