HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

wendy-davis-hrc-blog450

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

Fort Worth, El Paso have fewest same-sex couples among largest cities

Stockyards

Fort Worth ranks 49th out of the 50 largest cities in percent of same-sex couples

New data released by the Census Bureau indicates two Texas cities — El Paso and Fort Worth — have the lowest percentage of same-sex couples among the 50 largest cities in the U.S.

Fort Worth came in No. 49 with just 0.26 percent of couples who are gay or lesbian, and El Paso is No. 50 with 0.25 percent of couples.

Colorado Springs, home of anti-gay hate groups such as Focus on the Family, is No. 48.

In the top spot is Seattle with 2.6 percent of couples gay or lesbian. Seattle edged out San Francisco with 2.5 percent. Minneapolis is third with 2.4 percent. All three of those cities are in marriage-equality states.

Despite having a lower concentration of gay and lesbian couples, El Paso has a pansexual state representative and Fort Worth has a gay city councilman.

In the latest census, Arlington ranked 50th largest city in the U.S. and has a higher percentage of same-sex couples than Fort Worth.

To be counted as gay couples, two people of the same sex had to report that they were married or an unmarried partner.

—  David Taffet

Queer athlete Diana Nyad sets awesome swimming record

Nyad

Everyone knows that gay culture is preoccupied with youth. Blah blah blah. But you don’t have to be under 30 to demonstrate your physical prowess. Or even under 40. Or even 64.

Diana Nyad, the lesbian swimming legend and sports commentator, has set numerous marathon water records in her storied career, has tried five times to set another record: swimming more than 100 miles from Cuba to Florida without benefit of a shark cage or wet suit. She failed four times.

But not this weekend when, after 53 hours, she came ashore off Key West on Monday. She is 64 years old.

I’ve been a huge fan of Nyad since I was a kid, but every time she has attempted this record in recent years — while I have rooted for her — I have thought she should just give up. She’s not getting any younger.

But boy, did she prove me wrong.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lesbian partner moves out to comply with morality clause; appeal likely

Roach.John

Judge John Roach

While Page Price has already complied with Collin County Judge John Roach’s ruling to move out of her partner’s home, an appeal in the case could be filed soon.

Roach ruled in May that Price must move out of the home she and her partner, Carolyn Compton, share after Compton’s ex-husband reopened the case, citing the “morality clause” in their divorce papers. The clause doesn’t allow anyone who’s dating Compton and not related by blood or marriage to stay overnight.

Barrett Stern, the attorney representing Compton, said Price has moved out the home, and he is waiting for Roach to issue the written order under his ruling. Stern said he expects that to happen within the next week or so, and he and his client will decide where to go from there. He also said he’s waiting on courtroom transcripts before moving forward with any appeal.

After Dallas Voice broke the story about Roach’s ruling, Destyn Sublett of California started a MoveOn.org petition, entitled, “Tell Judge John Roach that morality clauses damage families and have no place in America’s courtrooms!” She said morality clauses are outdated and harm every community. The petition has garnered more than 62,000 signatures.

“I thought it was very infuriating,” Sublett said. “I don’t think it was right just because a couple is gay.”

Sublett said she knows little can be accomplished from the petition, but she wanted to do something and hopes it has some effect.

“By raising people’s awareness sometimes we can get things on a bigger scale to change,” she said.

Locally, leaders with the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance have met with Compton about the case and reached to people who know Roach. They’ve had little success in contacting him, and he hasn’t returned messages seeking comment.

—  Dallasvoice

Travis Co. DA Rosemary Lehmberg gets 45 days in jail for DWI charge

Rosemary Lehmberg

Rosemary Lehmberg

Lesbian Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated this morning and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.

Lehmberg said she planned to plead guilty to the class-A misdemeanor charge after she was arrested last weekend. Now in her second term, she said she plans to remain in office.

As Travis County DA, Lehmberg is over the Public Integrity Unit, which is responsible for investigating wrongdoing by state officials.

While Lehmberg apologized for her actions and said she would take whatever sentence she received, attorney Kerry O’Brien filed a request to remove her from office on Wednesday. He cited a law that allows for the removal of district attorneys for intoxication on or off the job, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

O’Brien is alleging incompetence and misconduct in his petition, which mentions Lehmberg was combative while in police custody, shouted curse words, and kicked and spit at officers.

—  Dallasvoice

Former Baylor star and top WNBA pick Brittney Griner comes out

Brittney.Griner

Ex-Baylor basketball player Brittney Griner came out yesterday during an interview with Sports Illustrated.

Griner, who was among the top picks in Monday’s WNBA Draft, discussed sexuality with the paper with fellow top picks Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.

When asked about why more women come out in sports than men do, Griner said she didn’t know why and added that being out is about being who you are.

“I really couldn’t give an answer on why. It’s just so different,” Griner said. “Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say because they’re always going to say something. But if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”

Griner said it wasn’t too difficult for her to be honest about her sexuality, even with her celebrity status.

“It really wasn’t too difficult. I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that,” Griner said. “I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality, so it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”

Griner attended Nimitz High School in Houston before receiving a full scholarship to Baylor University. She is the first NCAA basketball player ever to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. Had she come out during her career at Baylor, the anti-gay school may have taken away her scholarship or kicked her out.

She’ll start her WNBA career with the Phoenix Mercury in May.

Watch the interview below.

—  Dallasvoice

Queer rappers God-Des & She drop new CD at Sue Ellen’s Friday

Frank Ocean is a pioneer, Frank Ocean is great, but he’s not the only — or first — hip-hop star to come out. Ever since Austin-based rappers God-Des & She burst onto the music scene following a featured track on The L Word, the lesbian duo has had a following, both in the lesbian and hip-hop communities.

It’s no wonder why: With their sexually explicit lyrics (c’mon — when lesbians sing a song called “Lick It,” you don’t have to wonder what they are referring to) and in-your-face boldness, these Texas tornadoes give an urban, edgy profile. Add to that some gender-bending (for the record: The hardcore butch rapper is God-Des; the zaftig lipstick-and-dress-wearer is She), good airplay on MTV and Logo, and a campaign to get them on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, and you understand why they have a fan-base.

Their fourth album, United States of God-Des & She, is set to drop Feb. 5, but you can get a preview of it when the duo take to the stage at the Vixin Lounge inside Sue Ellen’s for a CD release party Friday. Doors open at 9 p.m., and God-Des & She will mount the stage at 11. And when we say mount … well, let’s just say you never know what to expect from those two.

Tickets available at SueEllensDallas.com and God-DesandShe.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones